Cuonzo Martin on Jeronne Maymon's redshirt
Filling the leadership role with Maymon out for season
Stepping in front cameras and tape recorders for the first time since October's optimistic men's basketball media day, Jeronne Maymon laid out his bottom line Monday afternoon.
"I didn't want to miss too many games," he conceded. "I didn't want to come back and be a distraction and have coach try to put me in there where other guys have paved the way for themselves to play this year. I'm just going to take the backseat and let guys do what they have to do."
The uniform in the backseat is a redshirt.
Maymon and UT coach Cuonzo Martin penned an obituary to the senior's 2012-13 season Monday. Both addressed the media one day after an official UT release announced Maymon will apply for a medical redshirt due to a left knee injury. He will return to UT as a fifth-year senior in 2013-14.
Maymon said he made his final decision after the Memphis game.
"I saw that I wasn't going to be able to play until late January and I didn't want to come back after missing that many SEC games," the preseason All-SEC second-team selection said. "It would have just been a hassle trying to get back and get back in the flow of everything."
With an accompanying shrug, Maymon added that he "didn't want to be a liability" by attempting to test his surgically repaired knee this season.
Maymon underwent arthroscopic surgery to address a torn meniscus on March 20 at UT Medical Center. He appeared in two games during the Vols' August exhibition tour of Italy, but began the 2012-13 season on crutches.
The clandestine injury and ensuing setbacks, veiled all season by student privacy laws, didn't become any clearer Monday.
A UT spokesmen prefaced Maymon's meeting with the media by saying he would not field questions about the injury itself.
The same applied for Martin.
"I can't give particulars about the specifics on the knees and types of surgeries, but he should have a full recovery," the second-year coach said. "By what the trainers and doctors are saying, he should be 100 percent full-go at the end of this month, practicing and competing in practice, if everything stays according to plan."
Martin said he believed Maymon could have taken the floor before the end of this season. He felt a few late-season games weren't worth wasting an entire year of eligibility, though.
"I knew at some point, if it got this late, I wasn't about to put the kid on the court and try to win a few games and he's not 100 percent," Martin explained.
The final decision was ultimately Maymon's.
"It's definitely kind of sad because I won't be able to play with Kenny Hall and Skylar McBee and the rest of the seniors that I've been playing with for the longest," he said. "It's bittersweet feeling, but I'm ready."
After sitting out the remainder of the season, Maymon, who averaged 12.7 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game as a junior, intends to return to UT and fill the program's last remaining available scholarship for next season.
The Vols are 8-4 without Maymon. SEC play begins Wednesday (TV: WVLT, 8 p.m.) against Ole Miss (11-2) at Thompson-Boling Arena.
In other injury news, Martin said Monday he expects freshman forward Derek Reese (sprained ankle) and junior forward D'Montre Edwards (sprained knee) to play Wednesday. Both missed the Vols' 85-80 loss to Memphis on Friday night.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn