KNOXVILLE – While the core of Tennessee’s 2013-14 basketball team is entrenched in traditional workouts – lifting, running, individual skill work and scrimmaging – some key parts are all over the map.
Sophomore swingman Derek Reese is competing in China with the Puerto Rican National Team. Junior forward Jarnell Stokes is with USA’s U19 Team as it prepares to compete in the Czech Republic this summer. Guard Jordan McRae will leave for Washington D.C. soon to participate in Kevin Durant’s Skills Camp.
Senior point guard Antonio Barton, a transfer from Memphis who has committed to UT, is finishing up academic work before he officially joins the Vols.
But as for those working out at Pratt Pavilion and participating in team activities in Knoxville this summer, coach Cuonzo Martin likes what he’s seeing from that group.
“The guys are doing a good job in the weight room lifting getting bigger, stronger, faster and doing a good job at competing in 5-on-5 games,” Martin said on the SEC Summer Teleconference on Monday. “Guys are working hard. I’m excited about the progress they’re making.”
Martin is excited specifically about the progress of senior Jeronne Maymon, who is making his way back from a knee injury that cost him all of what was supposed to be his senior season in 2012-13. Originally projected to be back around Christmas of 2012, Maymon’s injury eventually forced a medical redshirt that kept him out all season.
Now, approximately 15 months since he played in his last real college basketball game, Martin is finally seeing the old Maymon coming back into form.
“Looks like the same guy to me,” Martin said of the Madison, Wisc., native who has averaged 9.7 ppg over two seasons at UT. “He makes moves off the bounce, facilitates the offense. You almost know the team he’s on because they play at another level at both ends of the floor.
“He has a great passion for the game, does a tremendous job of communicating on both ends of the floor, directing traffic, so he looks normal to me.”
But the final “all clear” announcement from UT’s training staff is still eluding Maymon. The bruising 6-foot-7, 260-pound forward is well enough to play in some regular action this summer, but still has to be given days off to manage his recovery.
Martin doesn’t think the missed reps will hurt his game, but he’s ready to have his star forward back on the court for every practice session.
“It’s just one of those things where I’m not sure when he’ll get cleared full-time to do everything on a consistent basis,” he said. “We kind of limit his days as far as 5-on-5, full court. He’s in every individual workout.”
Stokes, Team USA win exhibition game: Stokes and USA’s U19 Team got off to a great start in international play with a 97-51 win over the Czech Republic in an exhibition played in Prague.
They will scrimmage Canada on Tuesday before officially beginning play in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship.
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga