KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Basketball season is on its way to Rocky Top as Rick Barnes and the Tennessee Volunteers held their first fall practice of the season. Expectations are high.

The Vols return experienced leaders John Fulkerson, Josiah Jordan-James, Victor Baily Jr. and Santiago Vescovi. They also have one of the top recruiting classes in the country — headlined by five-stars Kennedy Chandler and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield.

Barnes says leadership from the older players is going to be a key to Tennessee’s success, especially early in the season.

“The older guys have helped us because they know what culture we’ve created here,” Barnes said. “They know what the pillars of our program are, what’s important and how things are done.

“I’m being frank and honest if I tell you we’ve had the best leadership with our upperclassmen that we’ve had in a couple of years. Guys that you’ve talked about have been through some tough times, yet they’ve had some good times and they’ve done a really fine job of showing these younger guys what it’s about in our program. They know we need the younger guys to grow up quick.”

The Vols are around five weeks away from tipping off regular season basketball at Thompson Boling Arena.