Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
August 26, 2013Tennessee's 2013-14 basketball outlook is regarded as the brightest of the Cuonzo Martin era. That's based largely on so much returning talent on the roster, and perhaps most importantly on the return of Jeronne Maymon, who lost all of last season due to injury.
Maymon underwent what for most people, is a routine procedure, to repair a torn meniscus suffered towards the end of the 2012-13 season. Various complications arose during his rehab that made last year anything but routine for him.
Eventually the setbacks grew to the point that the decision was made to redshirt him, and after a long year of working his way back, Maymon is anxious to be a part of what he thinks could be a special year.
Meeting with the media on Monday morning, Maymon and Martin indicated that the senior is full-speed and ready pick up where he left off.
"I feel good, I'm working out, lifting weights, doing the early mornings. My body feels good, no pain, no nothing. I'm ready to go," Maymon said after a summer spent trying to work himself back into All-SEC form.
"It was really tough, sitting out watching the game you love, seeing your teammates struggle at times. Sometimes you feel lost. I did the best I could from the bench, trying to keep the energy up whether we were winning or losing.
Martin dealt with a constant barrage of questions concerning Maymon's injury last season. Clearly, the head man prefers talking about his healthy return.
"He looks good as far as workouts. I've never been big on percentages, because I never felt like I played at a 100%, I felt I played at a high level because once I entered I was always banged up in some way, shape or form. But he looks good. He looks like he did when he was playing at a high level," Martin offered.
"I think he looks better in certain areas, as far as making passes, decision making. I thought was one of the areas where he needed to improve was with his decision making in certain situations. I thought he was one of our better playmakers and he's done a good job thus far of making plays. He looks better than ever as far as I'm concerned."
Maymon, who didn't do much at all in the way of competitive basketball until this summer, shared Martin's when it came to the improvements in his game.
He concedes that he's not all the way back to where he wants to be physically, but a summer of working against the likes of Tobias Harris and Micheal Beasley in pick-up games has him thinking that he's going to make it all the way back.
"I think I'm more mentally prepared. I try to slow the game down. As of now I'm not as explosive as I was," Maymon said of his comeback. "I think I do a really good job of slowing the game down and seeing some different things that I didn't see before. That helps me as far as my passing and getting to the hole.
"Sitting out a whole year really helps me visualize the game better."
Martin noted that he was pleased with how the entire team used the summer from a physical conditioning standpoint.
Jordan McRae has gained eight pounds according to Martin, though the head coached 'you may not be able to tell it.'
Martin also praised Jarnell Stokes for the work that he's done on his body. Stokes has lost some weight, getting down to the 260 range, but most noticeably has simply toned up, looking much more lithe and nimble.
"When he came back from playing with USA Basketball you could see his explosiveness. He was getting rebounds over the rim. If you watch him last year you see him doing a great job of carving out space and getting rebounds. Now he's going up to get them over the rim," Martin said of Stokes. "That's the next level for his game. I can probably count on one hand the number of times he went and got big rebounds last year.
"Allan Houston came back this summer and didn't recognize Jarnell because he'd lost so much weight. That's actually a good thing because he's not a center. He plays it for us, but he's a forward."
One reason many have such high hopes this season is that Tennessee was able to replace departed point guard Trae Golden with Memphis transfer Antonio Barton, avoiding putting the weight of the world (or season) on the shoulders of freshman Darius Thompson.
Martin says he's most impressed with Barton's attitude, something he saw well before he got him on campus.
"He's a guy that has a tremendous level of toughness. He competes at a high level. To get a guy like that...he did a great job in my opinion of keeping his composure for three years," Martin said of Barton.
"He fell out of the starting line-up last year after an injury and he did a great job of keeping his composure, not complaining, not making excuses. When I talked to (Josh) Pastner, that's one of the things he said about the kid, 'he doesn't make excuses, he competes at a high level and he brings his hard hat everyday. Plus, he beat us up quite a bit. You want a guy like that. You don't want to play against a guy like that."