Tennessee has played the waiting game with Jeronne Maymon’s health for well over a year by now.
The last game he played for the Vols was all the way back in March of 2012. Since then, he’s had surgery on both of his knees, with complications regarding the procedure on his left knee costing him all of the 2012-2013 season.
Maymon still isn’t all the way back, but he expects to be soon. Earlier this month, he told Go Vols Xtra that running and jumping is finally pain free and that he’s currently doing what he can to strengthen his left leg and get himself back into game shape. He wants to be 100% by the end of July.
On Monday, Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin said on the SEC conference call that Maymon had begun playing some full-court five-on-five in morning open gyms, and that’s he looks like the same player that averaged 12.7 points and 8.1 boards in 2011-2012.
“He looks like the same guy to me, making moves off the bounces, facilitating the offense,” Martin said. “You always know the team he’s on, because they play at another level on both ends of the floor.”
“He looks normal to me, it’s just one of those deals where I’m not sure when he’ll be cleared full time to do everything full time on a consistent basis every day. We limit his days as far as five-on-five full court, but he’s in every individual workout and skill workout.”
It’s tough to take Martin seriously here, but that’s not because the coach has developed a reputation for misleading the media. We’ve been hearing that Maymon is almost back to full strength for a long time now. He was supposed to be ready for Tennessee’s trip to Italy last summer, but he missed that. He was supposed to be ready by the start of the season, but he wasn’t. And after sitting out the first semester, he was supposed to be ready to play when the calendar turned, but he ended up sitting out the entire season.
Maymon is an asset for the Vols this season. When healthy, he’s a powerful, 6-foot-7 forward that will team with Jarnell Stokes to give the Vols as much muscle in the front court as any team in the country. Throw in Robert Hubbs, Jordan McRae and Antonio Barton, and the Vols have, on paper, a team that’s good enough to push both Kentucky and Florida in the SEC next season.
But a lot of that hinges on whether or not Maymon ever makes it back to being the same player that he was as a junior — remember when he put up 32 and 20 on Memphis in Maui? — and until we see him on the floor, moving like he used to, skepticism will remain.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.