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/