Hope slips with every limp.
With just 10 weeks remaining in Tennessee's 2012-13 men's basketball season, senior power forward Jeronne Maymon is still walking gingerly. His surgically repaired right knee looks about as game-ready as Stokley Athletics Center.
Thus, it's not only Christmas time for UT hoops. It's almost decision time.
"As we get into January, it's one of those deals where we'll sit down with Jeronne Maymon, the training staff, doctors and his family and make a decision," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said prior to Thursday's practice. He followed by confirming that a possible medical redshirt for Maymon has been discussed.
A redshirt would allow Maymon to return to UT for a fifth year in 2013-14.
"He's open to everything," Martin said. "One thing about Jeronne, he's a coachable guy. He wants to do what's best for the team. If that means coming back (for a redshirt season), he'll come back. We're trying to figure out what's best for Jeronne Maymon first and foremost, then our team."
On Dec. 11, UT director of compliance Todd Dooley confirmed to the News Sentinel that Maymon is eligible for a medical redshirt. No special NCAA waiver would be necessary.
Having transferred to UT from Marquette nine games into his freshman year in 2009-10, Maymon would be a fifth-year senior if he returns for 2013-14, thus complying with NCAA eligibility rules.
Maymon was UT's second-leading scorer (12.7 ppg) and leading rebounder (8.1 rpg) as a junior in 2011-12.
Martin said Maymon's remaining year of eligibility won't be cast aside if he can play in a few late-season games this season.
"I wouldn't bring him out if there's a month left in the season," Martin said. "I wouldn't do that to Jeronne."
Asked if there's a specific cut-off date for when it's worth using Maymon, Martin said, "I don't want to make a premature decision and give you a date. I'd just be lying at this point."
More Injury Updates: When freshman Derek Reese underwent shoulder surgery on Aug. 21 to repair a torn right labrum, the expected recovery time was approximately six months.
Four months later, Reese appears ready to go. The 6-foot-8 forward saw his first live, full-contact action in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. His shoulder is fully healed.
Asked if he's going to try to get Reese on the floor this season, Martin answered, "I think so. He's definitely close to getting there. Whether it's a week, two weeks, three weeks, I think he's there."
Senior forward Kenny Hall, who missed Tuesday's win over Presbyterian with a strained hamstring, practiced Wednesday and Thursday. He's expected to return tonight.
Meet the Catamounts: The Vols face Western Carolina tonight at Thompson-Boling Arena (TV: FSTN, 7 p.m.) in their final game before Christmas break. Led by guards Trey Sumler (15.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.1 apg) and Tom Tankelewicz (last two games: 11-of-19 3-pointers, 21.5 ppg), Western Carolina is 4-7 with losses to Georgetown, Wichita State and Illinois.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/BFQuinn s