John Adams: Vols could come out ahead by redshirting Maymon

John Adams
Adam Brimer/News Sentinel
Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon, left, talks with coach Cuonzo Martin between plays during the Vols' exhibition game against Carson-Newman College on Nov. 4, 2011, at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

Adam Brimer/News Sentinel Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon, left, talks with coach Cuonzo Martin between plays during the Vols' exhibition game against Carson-Newman College on Nov. 4, 2011, at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Filling the leadership role with Maymon out for season

Cuonzo Martin on Jeronne Maymon's redshirt

In a sports world that craves immediate success more than ever, I hesitate to write: "Wait till next season."

But that's what came to mind when Tennessee men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin on Monday discussed the decision to redshirt Jeronne Maymon, an All-SEC caliber player who hasn't played since undergoing offseason knee surgery.

Forget what a boost Maymon's return might have given the Vols in the second half of the current season. Think what he could do for next season's team.

The Vols will lose two current starters, guard Skylar McBee and forward Kenny Hall. They will gain Maymon and top-20 recruit Robert Hubbs, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard.

That's not to write off a season that hasn't reached the halfway mark. But next season's team with Maymon should be better than this season's team with Maymon would have been.

Sophomore forward Jarnell Stokes is the wildcard in the scenario. Never mind that's he not remotely ready for the NBA. But he wouldn't be the first collegian to prematurely venture into the pros.

My guess is he won't, and Maymon's return should be a factor in that. Stokes probably has been affected more by Maymon's absence than anyone else. His numbers should go up dramatically when again paired with another prominent post player.

Such speculation wouldn't matter if Cuonzo Martin were in his fifth season as UT's coach and hadn't made it to an NCAA tournament. In that case, next season might be too late; the loss of Maymon would be devastating.

However, Martin is just getting started. He came tantalizingly close to making the NCAA tournament last season after finishing second in the SEC. His second Tennessee team is 8-4 with no bad non-conference losses as it enters SEC play Wednesday night against Ole Miss.

Don't expect the team to be jarred by the latest Maymon news. It already has played 12 games without him and has probably hardened itself to the possibility of going the rest of the way sans Maymon.

Moreover, it's not as though he has vanished from the premises. He remains a part of a team that values his leadership. He's like having another coach, guard Jordan McRae said at Monday's media conference.

This team still has an upside. McBee and Trae Golden are both mired in shooting slumps (a combined 5-for-36 from the field in the last three games). Imagine what just average production from them could do for the offense.

For example, consider McBee's last outing against Ole Miss. He made five of 11 3-pointers in an overtime loss last March.

And remember what Golden did before his three-game shooting slump. He made 12 of 25 shots, had 12 assists and

scored 41 points combined in back-to-back victories over Wichita State and Presbyterian.

While McBee and Golden have struggled of late, guard Josh Richardson has picked up the slack, averaging 14.6 points and totaling 44 points in the last three games. Contrast that with the 37 he scored in the previous six games.

Factor in UT's depth, even without Maymon, and you have a team equipped to at least make a run at the NCAA tournament. If it falls short, just "wait till next season."

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 15

manning_berry_special_player1614 writes:

im sure glad jon jon set us straight on this.....no shiznit that we will be better off with him...we would also be better this season with him..it is what it is get well soon maymon

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

Sounds like JM made a wise decision. Wish he was healthy now, but you know he needs to be 100% to play effectively. And we all know what kind of game he brings when he's healthy. You gotta like this guy. Looking forward to Maymon bringing it strong next season.

redskinvol1 writes:

I hope the rest of the team does not wait till next year.Go get twelve sec wins this year guys.Go Vols!!

lguy (Inactive) writes:

in response to manning_berry_special_player1614:

im sure glad jon jon set us straight on this.....no shiznit that we will be better off with him...we would also be better this season with him..it is what it is get well soon maymon

You've got some serious problems, dude. Get some help. Seriously.

sameolvolalum writes:

These guys will play tough and get better. the SEC's not overly loaded this year, so making it to the dance is a distinct possibility. We're with you fellas!

easleychuck writes:

McBee is clearly injured. He is doing the best he can but at some point if he can't shoot the long ball with his damaged elbow then his minutes will need to go down. Coach will just have to coach up one of the younger guys.

The thing that UT can't let happen is the lack of consistent defense effort such as what occurred Friday night against Memphis.

That has to be a constant. I am really worried about our lack of size inside against KY.

VolunteerLifer writes:

Once again JA simply states the obvious. He is getting paid for writing the same analysis one can read on this board. Manning-berry above is correct.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to easleychuck:

McBee is clearly injured. He is doing the best he can but at some point if he can't shoot the long ball with his damaged elbow then his minutes will need to go down. Coach will just have to coach up one of the younger guys.

The thing that UT can't let happen is the lack of consistent defense effort such as what occurred Friday night against Memphis.

That has to be a constant. I am really worried about our lack of size inside against KY.

Yeah, it really is too bad about Skylar with all the hard work he has put in. Just have to hope Golden gets well, McRae and Richardson stay hot, and maybe Reese can eventually take up some of the slack outside. No question this year's team would have been pretty darned good with a healthy Maymon all year, but next year's team should really be loaded. Hope the recruiting picks up in the next class, though. I think some of the current young guys will continue to develop, but no doubt the Vols need to have a fuller pipeline going forward.

BrassMonkey writes:

Is it just me or has Stokes gotten progressively worse under coach Martin?

troubleinc writes:

Thanks Captain Obvious

volinlouisvilleky writes:

in response to BrassMonkey:

Is it just me or has Stokes gotten progressively worse under coach Martin?

It's you!

Stokes has been triple teamed all year without Maymon on the court. But why let facts get in your way!

richvol writes:

Why did Reese not play against Memphis when we couldn't buy a basket in the first half? Why play McBee when he couldn't hit the ocean? WTF?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to richvol:

Why did Reese not play against Memphis when we couldn't buy a basket in the first half? Why play McBee when he couldn't hit the ocean? WTF?

As has been stated several times on here, Reese sprained an ankle in practice before the Memphis game. I agree that Skylar has probably been playing too many minutes since sustaining a torn ligament in his shooting elbow, but CCM may have felt he had no choice since Reese was hurt and nobody else off the bench besides McRae has shown any consistent ability to make 3-pointers either.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to volinlouisvilleky:

It's you!

Stokes has been triple teamed all year without Maymon on the court. But why let facts get in your way!

That guy only shows up every now and then to say something stupid, and then, for a blessed few days, he goes away. Pay him no mind; nobody else does.

born2ride writes:

Tomorrow's column by John Adams:

Why the Vols will be better if Stokes goes pro.

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