Huge blow for the Tennessee Volunteers as head coach Cuonzo Martin announced that first team preseason All-SEC Forward Jeronne Maymon will be redshirted due to arthroscopic left knee surgery that had kept him out so far this season. Last season Maymon, a Junior transfer from Marquette averaged 12 points a game and 8 rebounds with dominating performances against teams like Florida and Kentucky, leading Tennessee to a second place finish in an SEC that saw two teams make it into the Elite 8.
Maymon was expected to be one of the best players in the SEC this season and lead the Volunteers to SEC title contention as well as an NCAA tournament berth. Maymon’s absence showed in losses against Georgetown and Virginia, where the Volunteers were manhandled on the glass being outrebounded by a huge amount. The hole Maymon’s absence has left so far in the offense this season repeatedly shows itself in each Tennessee loss.
Maymon brought with him something that the Volunteers needed badly – an offensive monster in the paint. Maymon’s aggressive style complemented the smooth shooting touch of the other Tennessee star, Jarnell Stokes.
With Maymon’s return Stokes would have been free to pay his game, as the post help would have to worry about Maymon’s superb offensive rebounding skills. Stokes is a scorer, and Maymon is a rebounder. Maymon makes the entire team better because he requires such close guarding. He was second in scoring all of last season behind Trae Golden – who got most of his points from Maymon offensive rebounds that were then dished outside. Maymon was the best returning offensive rebounder in the SEC and was expected to become one of the best offensive rebounders in the country this season.
Without Maymon, the Volunteers’ hopes of an SEC title are all but over. Tennessee still has a lot of talent down-low (never count Stokes out), but the Volunteers will have to look to Yemi Makanjuola to step up. Tennessee’s three point shooting percentages must improve as well (Here’s looking at you Skylar McBee and new potential star Freshman Derek Reese).
Tennessee looks like a team that is capable of making it to the NCAA tournament, but without Maymon, the Volunteers will not go as far as they would have hoped. This team will fight hard, but, without Maymon, will be overwhelmed by offensively talented teams like Missouri and Florida.
Next season looks like Tennessee’s season in the SEC. Maymon will be back, Golden will be a senior along with Jordan McRae, and (if he stays) Stokes will be a Junior. Although the redshirt will be devastating to this season’s expectations, it creates a scenario that next year in the SEC, Tennessee will be the team to beat rather than just a contender.
So, whether a curse or blessing, Maymon’s injury may be beneficial to Tennessee in the future – but unfortunately for Tennessee, only time will tell.