Lady Vol Kelley Cain will not play senior season

Tennessee's Shekinna Stricklen, left, is congratulates by teammates Kelley Cain, center, and Lauren Avant after Stricklen scored against Stetson.

Photo by Saul Young

Tennessee's Shekinna Stricklen, left, is congratulates by teammates Kelley Cain, center, and Lauren Avant after Stricklen scored against Stetson.

Kelley Cain’s health has had the final say on her Tennessee women’s basketball career.

The 6-foot-6 redshirt junior center, who underwent multiple knee surgeries as a Lady Vol and suffered with back and hip problems, has opted to forgo her final season of eligibility.

“After numerous months of prayer. doctors’ visits and treatments, I have accepted the fact that I am currently unable to meet the demands of playing collegiate basketball,’’ Cain said in a UT release.

Cain, who was a McDonald’s All-American and won three state titles at St. Pius X High in Atlanta, set a single-season UT record for blocks with 113 in 2009-10. She had 228 for her career, the third most in team history. In three seasons, she shot 60.6 percent from the field, the third best career field goal shooting percentage in program history.

Conversely, she averaged 19.9 playing minutes per game for her career. She never topped 29 minutes in any game this season and sat out the final three games of the regular season.

“I think she wanted to play and I think she played through a lot of pain,’’ UT coach Pat Summitt said. “But I think, to her credit, she said, ‘enough is enough.’ ”

Along with Summitt, UT’s medical staff supported Cain’s decision. Dr. Rebecca Morgan, Tennessee’s team physician, served as a spokesperson.

“She has been experiencing ongoing arthritic changes incurred after years of playing competitive basketball and it has taken a toll on her body,” Dr. Morgan said in a release.

Cain was redshirted in 2007-08 after undergoing surgery to correct a patella subluxation of her right knee. She underwent additional knee surgery in 2009 to remove screws that were inserted during the first procedure.

Along with back and hip problems, Cain also suffered multiple concussions during her Tennessee career.

After playing 25 minutes against Baylor 6-8 All-American Brittney Griner on Dec. 14, Cain was slumped on the floor, awaiting her turn in the interview room. Teammate Angie Bjorklund stood up for her after the 65-54 loss to the Lady Bears by saying, “You know she’s in pain. She’s been fighting through a lot, and I think that says a ton about her.”

At that point of the season, Cain made it clear that her basketball career was her call, saying: “That’s what I’m going to do until I literally can’t anymore.”

Cain is scheduled to graduate next month with a degree in marketing (logistics concentration). In the UT release she also said, “My family and I must now focus on my quality of life. I will miss everyone involved in the Lady Vol program from my teammates and coaches to the managers, trainers and strength coaches. I am so blessed and very thankful for the opportunities I have had while at Tennessee.”

Summitt said Tuesday that she was not expecting any more player attrition. Tennessee’s season ended last Monday with a 73-59 loss to Notre Dame in the Dayton Regional final.

Dan Fleser covers Lady Vols basketball. He may be reached at 865-342-6288. Follow him at http://twitter.com/fleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser/

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Comments » 69

Witch_Doctors writes:

VFL
BNL

cc623 writes:

We will miss you and thanks for all you have done for the Lady Vols!!!

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

VFL
BNL

Translation?

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Translation?

Witch Doctor being lazy..lol
Vol for Life(VFL)
Bones never lie.(BNL)

easleychuck writes:

Will have her degree, which at the end of the day, is what college is about, even for athletes.

VOLsince68 writes:

Nice touch WD. I hate that she's not going to get to play. Best of luck in her future endeavors. VFL.

GO VOLS!!!

tmartin writes:

Fire joan cronan , this is her fault

VolunteerLifer writes:

We were lucky to have this young lady try to work through all of the injuries and pain to contribute to the team. She has sacrificed to try to play. You could tell late this season as her mobility and quickness was limited that the injury effects were piling up. I'm glad she was part of the team and glad she is choosing her health. Good luck to Kelly.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor being lazy..lol
Vol for Life(VFL)
Bones never lie.(BNL)

Thanks friend!

I was too slow to figure it out !

hallsguy writes:

I read in the South Bend paper that Muffet McGraw has a 100% graduation rate over 20+ years with her players. As does Pat, I believe.
WHy can't the men do the same?
This is a good decision for Kelly and that she is getting her degree is great. Her health will prohibit her from playing in the WNBA. Not that there was much money to be made there.
Best wishes for Kelly!

rdberry#654521 writes:

Kelly: You will be missed. Thanks for all your efforts on behalf of the team & University. God bless you with success and happiness in your personal & preofessional endeavors. Wish you a return to complete health ASAP!

tenecvol4 writes:

WD - you are sooo right -- Kelly gave it her all through all the pain -- Truly bled orange - Congrads on graduating --Kelly will succeed at whatever she does !! Her contributions will be remembered

flatrock writes:

A classy lady. Am certain she will be successful in
whatever direction she chooses.

LdyVolFaninKS writes:

God speed Kelly. Thanks for being a true Vol and playing through the pain to the best of your abilities all these years. Your dedication has been greatly appreciated!

mithomas writes:

Kelly is a product of what Summitt teaches. Fine young ladies getting their education and becoming first class citizens. It just so happens they can play basketball pretty well also. I am sorry she is suffering. It appears after careful thought and prayer she is settle din her mind this is the best thing. We are all proud of you Kelly. Thanks for everything you did for UT.

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

Smart woman. Her knees took a beating and she could never come back to her potential when she was recruited. This frees up another scolly, and Cain did better by that than hanging around in pain for a year.

alvol writes:

Best of luck in the future. Thanks for all you did for Lady Vol basketball.

murrayvol writes:

Thanks a lot Kelley and good luck wherever life takes you.

We'll leave the light on for you.

jman33163 writes:

Thank you for giving your all for Tennessee Kelley!! VFL!!

Go Big Orange!!!!

jopad writes:

in response to PrideOfTheSouthlandBanned:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

This is a viscious and "mean spirited" post. Thanks Kelly for your contribution to Lady Vol Basketball. Best wishes for the future.

voloffaith writes:

in response to PrideOfTheSouthlandBanned:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

NoPrideofTheCanned for that uncalled for attempt at a stab in the back. You know what ewe were saying was abusive and defamatory and did it anyway.

On topic, I thought that it might come to this and thankfully she is a Lady Vol with class recognizing she could hurt herself and teammates by trying another year. Best wishes and thanks for the effort that was painful for you! LVL as WD said earlier and we know BNL.

voloffaith writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks for following NoPrideOfThesouthlandband with another classless remark. Tell me why that needed to be posted? Oh it was cute? ....NOT!!

Abusive as well.....

TennVol01 writes:

in response to easleychuck:

Will have her degree, which at the end of the day, is what college is about, even for athletes.

I agree. Good post. Most fans forget this part of athletics. Pat preaches this to her girls. There is a way out other than pro ball.

pammyvol1000 writes:

I have enjoyed watching Kelley play for TN. Good luck in your future!!

Einstein writes:

We will miss you Kelly. You always played hard despite the injuries. Sorry this had to happen. On a POSITIVE Note, you have your degree in a field that should give you a good career. The degree is really what is the most important.

huntined#565710 writes:

I had stated in another post that we needed our bigs healthy to win N.C. Cain was hurt most of the year and never was able to get into playing shape.. We thank her for the effort and wish her well.

PINK_CHAMPAGNE writes:

Good luck Kelly! I wish you well! Health reasons did'nt allow you to be the best that you could be.

voloffaith writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

CONTENT was issue regardless of source!

ddayvolsfan#238252 writes:

Kelley: We will miss you. You have provided us with a many great memories during your career as a Lady Vol. You are, a Vol for Life.

bsimpg3 writes:

Kelly was raw when she arrived (as most freshman are) and came a long way during her time on the hill. Ultimately, injuries got the best of her. Thank you Ms. Cain for giving 100% each time you took the floor. I wish you the best!

VFL!

SummittsCourt writes:

She will be missed but never forgotten by this Lady Vols fan. I wish her well in her career endeavors and say thanks for her sacrifice and dedication.

Sometimes it just doesn't work out the way we planned. She got her education and that's what really matters in the real world.

Congrats Kelley and thanks for the memories!

ODA751 writes:

Kelly, thanks for your hard work. Good luck in the future and God bless.

orangevoltrain writes:

in response to tmartin:

Fire joan cronan , this is her fault

How can this be her fault Kelly Cain has had A lot of Health problems. Joan Cronan must be doing a pretty good job The womens program (All Women sport) has a lot going right ,they are not in any trouble with those no good for nothing NCAA trolls,and I am not just nocking the ncaa for what the mens sports are going through You make your bed you lay down in it It is vols fault for not having control over cheaters!! I still like Pearl but he cheated and he had to go.

orangevoltrain writes:

Thanks Kelly we will miss you. VFL

orangevoltrain writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

She will be missed but never forgotten by this Lady Vols fan. I wish her well in her career endeavors and say thanks for her sacrifice and dedication.

Sometimes it just doesn't work out the way we planned. She got her education and that's what really matters in the real world.

Congrats Kelley and thanks for the memories!

Well said I agree 100%

ladivolfan writes:

Health is most important. Kelly will succeed in whatever she chooses to do. Many thanks for her dedication to the Lady Vols. Two thumbs up.

madrigal writes:

Good luck to Kelley. If she continues to try as hard in life as she did in basketball, she will be a success. Life is what happens when you are making other plans. She'll always be a Lady Vol, and she'll have her degree besides.

madrigal writes:

in response to PrideOfTheSouthlandBanned:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Rude and mean-spirited. Not to mention uncalled for. If you'd had to deal with all she did you'd probably be whimpering in a corner.

reg_mza#219136 writes:

I felt for her so much over the past 3+ years with all the knee pain she has been going through so I cannot complain, be disappointed, or think indifferently with her decision. I hope all the best for her.

Now...I wonder if we will try to get in a recruit with this class like Bria Smith or save it for next year and reload that class with another scholarship opening.

VolNExile writes:

Thanks, Kelley, for what you brought to this program, and best of luck to you in the future!

--arthritis while still in college; that's just too young.

volsfan74 writes:

in response to orangevoltrain:

How can this be her fault Kelly Cain has had A lot of Health problems. Joan Cronan must be doing a pretty good job The womens program (All Women sport) has a lot going right ,they are not in any trouble with those no good for nothing NCAA trolls,and I am not just nocking the ncaa for what the mens sports are going through You make your bed you lay down in it It is vols fault for not having control over cheaters!! I still like Pearl but he cheated and he had to go.

Vol Train I think this was sarcasm. Not sure just an assumption.

MajorMustard writes:

Thanks Kelley - that is cool you ranked so high on so many stats. Best of luck, we WILL miss you.

xvolx writes:

Is this the reason we recruited three players for next year. Bj and Smallbone are the only seniors. I didn't think Baugh would be back either. She has major physical issues. Summitt must have known all along that Cain wasn't coming back.

BleedsOrangeinMO writes:

I'm sure that Cain probably played more this year than she expected to. Because we had the injury to the heel and that took out one of the posts that we were counting on for this year (both Baugh and Brewer have had health issues) that could have played more minutes had that not happened. Why did you think Johnson was moved to post? So Cain played as well as she could until the other team mates healed and were able to help out. She truly gave her all for Tennessee. Thanks Cain; You will NOT be forgotten.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Best of luck to you Kel. Gonna miss that smile and beautiful eyes.

charlyand#601962 writes:

A beautiful young woman inside and out. Best of luck, Kelly. We'll miss you!

kantanuuv writes:

Wow, the memories. I remember every layup she missed.

Good luck Kel!

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Kelly, thanks for your years at UT. Bad things sometimes happen to good people. I've got a feeling that a whole of of good things are coming your way!

Baugh is also very good when healthy.

GO LADY VOLS!

VolinTally writes:

Kelly Cain has been a true asset for the Lady Vols. When playing at the top of her game, she always made a huge difference. Great smile and never seemed to take things too seriously. And loved her in the Stanford game when she rebounded her missed free throw near the end of the game and layed it back up for 2. That epitomizes what she was able to do even when working through the pain. So, thanks!

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Going to be hard to replace a good 6'6 center like Cain. We will miss her. 6'5 or better doesnt grow on trees much for women basketball players,but we need another post player in a hurry. I would definately push and go after Diamond Deshields at 6'2. Shes a baller.

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