Jeronne Maymon’s road to recovery has been one pockmarked by setbacks, speculation and self-motivation.
The Tennessee forward played his last basketball game on March 19, 2012.
Complications from left knee surgery washed away his 2012-13 season. Now, though, Maymon says his road is clear and paved. The redshirt senior is participating in workouts, playing occasional five-on-five games and slowly rounding back into form.
“I should be 100 percent by the end of July,” he said Saturday.
Maymon spoke with optimism confined by experience.
He was supposed to be 100 percent prior to the Vols’ trip to Italy last summer. He wasn’t.
He was supposed to be 100 percent by preseason workouts. He wasn’t.
After missing the beginning of the season, he was supposed to be 100 percent by midyear.
“It’s been very frustrating,” said Maymon, an All-SEC second team selection in 2011-12 after averaging 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a junior. “I’m really impatient right now. I want the season to be here and I want to be healthy.”
There is no longer any swelling in Maymon’s knee, and while running and jumping are still chores, both are at least pain-free. His current goals include losing some weight, strengthening his left quadriceps and improving his conditioning.
“You’ve got to be patient,” he said. “Sometimes I’m at home and I’m upset and angry. I can’t just go out there and play in an open gym anytime and do things I used to do. And when I am able to play I still think I can do certain things without having my strength, but I can’t.
“Right now I don’t really know the level that I’m at — it’s hard to put a number on it. I’m doing really good, but I can be so much better when I get my strength back and my ability to jump and can move without thinking.
“If I’m diligent in my work, everything is going to be fine.”
UT coach Cuonzo Martin was asked about Maymon last week during the SEC meetings in Destin, Fla. He was unflinching in responding, “I think he’ll be basketball-ready. He looks on pace to be 100 percent.”
It’s a prudent pace. Maymon says he isn’t rushing anything. His two-a-day workouts consist mainly of lifting and conditioning. He doesn’t do much unnecessary running, opting instead for a stationary bike.
He wants to scrimmage as much as possible, but team doctors, led by associate director of sports medicine Chad Newman, cage him at times.
“If I lose some weight and gain my strength back, I’ll feel like myself again, but right now, I just feel a little slow out there with the ball; a little sluggish,” Maymon said. “I think it will come back in time.”
Frustration aside, Maymon’s focus is trained on November 2013 — his scheduled return to Tennessee basketball.
He’s hoping for a one-way street.
“God willing, I’ll be out there, 100 percent, and doing everything I used to do and better,” Maymon said. “I’m really excited. I’m really anxious.”
Newcomers onboard: Freshmen Robert Hubbs III, Darius Thompson and A.J. Davis, and junior college transfer Rawane Ndiaye are all enrolled in UT’s first summer session and participating in team workouts.
Hubbs is listed at 6-foot-5, 180 pounds, while Thompson is 6-4, 180, Davis is 6-8, 200 and Ndiaye is 6-10, 250.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn