KNOXVILLE -- Though a challenging test awaits the Tennessee basketball team Wednesday when it opens Southeastern Conference play by hosting Ole Miss (8:05 p.m. ET, SEC Network), the biggest hoops news coming out of Rocky Top Monday surrounded the announcement that forward Jeronne Maymon is going to redshirt this season.
The preseason first-team All-SEC selection had off-season knee surgery in the spring and then suffered a setback in his rehab in October. Maymon had yet to practice with the Vols this season, and the decision has now been made that he will not attempt to return until the 2013-14 campaign, at which time he’ll be a fifth-year senior.
Although his imposing frontcourt presence and statistical production will be missed as the Volunteers embark on SEC play, the Madison, Wis., native still plans to have an impact on this team’s fortunes.
“Coach (Martin) told me a while back that he doesn’t want me rehabbing during practice,” Maymon said. “He wants me to out here talking to the guys, helping them out and letting them pick my brain from what I know from actually being out there and playing the game.”
Maymon has been the team’s most vocal cheerleader from the bench this season. But he acknowledged that being forced to watch and not participate has been a challenge.
“It’s been miserable, but I try to keep my enthusiasm up and let (my teammates) know that I’m there for them,” Maymon said. “I’m going to show my support – whether we’re up or whether we’re down – I’m going to stay the same and try to stay level.”
Junior wing Jordan McRae, who is averaging a team-best 16.0 points per game in UT’s last three contests, affirmed that Maymon’s presence is still felt amongst the team.
“Even though he’s not playing, he’s still a huge part of our team,” McRae said. “He talks in practice. During the games he’s always talking to us. He’s like another coach out there for us.”
While Maymon looks forward to returning to action next season, there is a downside for the team-oriented big man.
“It’s 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 so long,” Maymon said. “So it’s a bittersweet feeling, but I’m ready.
“I’m getting better every day, and I’m getting stronger every day and that’s really the most important part.”
EMPHASIS OF THE DAY
Tuesday’s “Emphasis of the Day” – daily midcourt talking points spearheaded by head coach Cuonzo Martin prior to each practice – posed a simple question.
What will you do with the moments you have left?
ABOUT THE REBELS
Ole Miss enters Wednesday’s clash boasting an 11-2 record and some of the Southeastern Conference’s top statistical performers.
First-year Rebels guard Marshall Henderson makes an average of four 3-pointers per game while attempting nearly 11 in each contest. The 6-2 transfer from South Plains College in Texas sits atop the SEC scoring chart with 18.2 points per game.
In the frontcourt, senior forward Murphy Holloway has been an imposing presence all season long. At 6-7, 240 pounds, Holloway averages a double-double with 15.8 points and a league-leading 10.9 rebounds per game. His 4.1 offensive rebounds per game also rank first among SEC players.
Fellow senior forward Reginald Buckner – a native of Memphis, Tenn. – has 40 blocked shots in 13 games to rank second in the conference in that category (3.1 bpg).
Ole Miss point guard Jarvis Summers gives the Rebels another SEC leader, as his 4.8 assist/turnover ratio stands as the best in the league.
As a team, the Rebels lead all SEC teams in scoring (83.1 ppg) and 3-point field-goal defense (.270).
In their seventh season under head coach Andy Kennedy, the Rebels are 2-1 in true road games this season, with wins at Loyola Marymount and Hawaii and a loss at Middle Tennessee.
Tennessee leads the all-time series with Ole Miss 69-39, dating to 1924. The Volunteers hold a 39-10 advantage in Knoxville.
The Rebels have beaten the Vols just once in Thompson-Boling Arena (1991), as the Big Orange are riding an active 11-game home win streak over Ole Miss since 1992.
For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee basketball program, visit UTsports.com/basketball and follow @Vol_Hoops on Twitter.
(E-mail Stan Crawley at email@example.com)