The Tennessee Volunteers fell short of the NCAA tournament despite a great late-season run in the SEC that included a 30-point victory over the Kentucky Wildcats and a win in Knoxville against the Florida Gators. The Volunteers also defeated future Final Four members, the Wichita State Shockers.
However, with so many close losses all season long (they lost how many by two possessions or less), the Volunteers were missing experience and a clear leader. Tennessee will have both of these this season with the return of last year preseason All-SEC Forward Jeronne Maymon.
Maymon is a dynamic offensive rebounder, which was something that the Volunteers struggled with all season. He also is a veteran leader that can take this relatively young Tennessee team and push them in late-game situations. He will wreak havoc against defenses down low in the SEC.
Whether or not Maymon performs up to expectations will determine Tennessee’s ability to win all season long. Luckily, Maymon is the type of player that, despite missing an entire season, will come back more determined than ever.
Kentucky and Florida will still have something to say about letting Tennessee take the SEC, but remember, Cuonzo Martin is undefeated against Florida as the head coach for the Volunteers and has a close win-loss record against Kentucky.
Maymon has the opportunity to lead this team to an SEC title this year, but won’t have to do so alone. Despite the transfer of Trae Golden, the Volunteers return SEC double-double leader Jarnell Stokes and one of the best shooters in the SEC, Jordan McRae.
The return of Maymon to the basketball court will be a huge part of Tennessee’s potential success. Tennessee may not be the forerunners to win the SEC with the recruiting class John Calipari has coming to Kentucky, but the Volunteers will definitely make things interesting at the top.