KNOXVILLE — Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon, recovering from a knee injury that prevented him from playing last year, thinks he should be at 100 percent by the start of the basketball season.
"I feel good," Maymon said. "My body feels good. No pain. Nothing. I'm ready to go."
Tennessee opens the season Nov. 12 at Xavier as it tries to return to the NCAA tournament after back-to-back NIT appearances.
Maymon earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors two years ago before sitting out the entire 2012-13 season. Maymon said he isn't at the level he was before the injury, but the 6-foot-8 senior believes that will change as the season goes on.
"As of now, I'm not as explosive as I was, but I think I do a real good job of (mentally) slowing the game down and I think that helps me with my passes, getting to the hole and seeing different things that I didn't see before," Maymon said. "Sitting out a whole year really helps me visualize the game better. As the season goes along, I'll continue to gradually get stronger, faster. I think that's a good thing. While everybody else is staying the same, I think I'm gradually going to improve."
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said he hasn't noticed any difference in Maymon.
"He looks like the same old Jeronne to me," Martin said.
Maymon averaged 12.7 points and ranked fifth in the SEC with 8.1 rebounds per game in 2011-12, but a setback in his recovery from offseason surgery to his left knee lingered to the point that he finally redshirted. Before the 2012-13 season, Martin announced Maymon would miss the Vols' opening game but said the injury wouldn't knock him out for the whole year. By January, both the team and player had decided a redshirt was the best option.
Both are confident Maymon will be ready for the start of the upcoming season.
"He looks good as far as workouts," Martin said. "I've given percentages before, but I've never been big on numbers and percentages because I feel like I never played at what you would call 100 percent. I thought I played at a high level, (but) once I entered college I was always banged up in some way, shape or form. That's part of it. But he looks good. He looks like he did when he played at a high level. I think he's a little bit better in certain areas, as far as making passes, decision making."
Tennessee returns three of its top four scorers from a team that went 20-13 last season. The Vols also add Memphis transfer Antonio Barton and five-star recruit Robert Hubbs III to the backcourt.