UT's Jeronne Maymon confident he can bounce back

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon isn’t worried about his playing status for the upcoming season even though he still has work to do in his recovery from an injured left knee that sidelined him last year.

Maymon says he feels “between 67 percent and 73 percent,” but the former Madison Memorial standout isn’t feeling any pain or discomfort. The 6-foot-7 senior explained the discrepancy by saying he can’t feel as if he’s 100 percent until he’s back in peak condition.

“I’m not concerned,” Maymon said. “As long as I continue to gradually (improve), whatever percent I am at beginning of the season, I’ll be good enough to play and good enough to contribute and help my team earn victories. That’s pretty much the main goal, to gradually increase day by day. We don’t have to make a major leap every week, just 2 to 3 percent a week is good for me.”

Maymon says he played at 261 pounds during the 2011-12 season but wants to get down to 255. He currently is 266 after weighing almost 280 a few months ago. Maymon also said his left quadriceps muscle got smaller during his layoff and he’s trying to build it back up to match his right one.

Tennessee hopes Maymon can recapture the form he showed in 2011-12, when he averaged 12.7 points and ranked fifth in the Southeastern Conference with 8.1 rebounds per game to earn second-team all-conference honors while serving as the Volunteers’ emotional leader.

Vols coach Cuonzo Martin said Maymon “looks like the same guy to me, making moves off the bounce, facilitating the offense.” But he also pointed out that Maymon remains limited in full-court team activities because the Vols want to remain cautious.

“It’s just one of those deals where I’m not sure when he’ll get cleared fulltime to do everything on a consistent basis every day,” Martin said. “We kind of limit his days as far as five-on-five fullcourt, but he’s at every individual workout and skill workout and does everything like the normal players.”

The injury already has kept Maymon out longer than either he or the team expected.

When the Vols announced last fall that Maymon had a setback in his recovery from offseason knee surgery, Martin said it wouldn’t knock his star forward out the entire season. But the injury lingered to the point that both the team and player decided in January that a redshirt was the best option.

“When I first redshirted, that was probably my lowest moment,” Maymon said. “I spent the whole day at home sad and not answering phone calls or text messages, just thinking about what my future holds and everything like that. After that, the next day, you’ve got to get up and get to work. You’ve got to work if you want to get better. You can’t sit around and expect things to change on their own. I probably took a day to feel sorry for myself, and after that it was grind time.”

Maymon often wakes up at 5:15 a.m. for a rehabilitation session and workout before an 8 a.m. class. He then goes through more rehab, weightlifting sessions and agility drills the rest of the day.

He credits his parents for helping him through this ordeal.

Maymon said he inherited his work ethic from his father, Tim, who works in facility repair at the University of Wisconsin. Maymon said his positive attitude comes from his mother.

“She’s really like my rock,” Maymon said. “She helps me through all the tough times. Sometimes I call her just to hear her voice, and my days get better.”

LaTanya Maymon said her son’s decision to leave his home state by transferring from Marquette to Tennessee helped him learn to deal with adversity. Maymon decided to leave Marquette in December 2009.

“He made a big-boy decision with that move,” LaTanya Maymon said. “He made a conscious decision to move away from right up the street where we could get to him within an hour to moving (over) 600 miles away, where he had to stand up and had to draw from everything we had taught him. I believe that move prepared him for the season that he just went through.”

Maymon now is more focused on the upcoming season.

He isn’t dwelling on whether he can match his 2011-12 production. He’s more concerned with helping the Vols earn the NCAA tournament bid that eluded them the past two seasons.

“I’m not worried about scoring,” Maymon said. “I’m just worried about defending and keeping my team together as much as possible so we can make a good run in late March,” he said. “The only thing that matters in college basketball is getting wins and prolonging your season until you’re the last team standing.”

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