Cuonzo Martin: Jeronne Maymon playing 5-on-5, but ‘not sure when he’ll be cleared full-time’

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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.

Washington’s Thybulle returning for senior season

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Matisse Thybulle will return to Washington for his senior season after contemplating declaring for the NBA draft following a junior campaign in which he was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.

“The NBA is really enticing and it was definitely something that I seriously considered when the season was over,” Thybulle told the Seattle Times. “I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to stay and get my degree (in communications) and grow as a basketball player and take this last year to mature and fine tune everything so I can be fully prepared to take that next step when it’s time.”

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last season. He shot 44.5 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range.

“I talked to coach (Mike Hopkins) and he gave me some good advice that was honestly something that helped in the grand scheme of things,” Thybulle said. “He told me that if I do it (enter the draft), then I should be all in because that’s what I’m going to be up against is a whole bunch of guys fighting for their lives. He thought it would be a better idea for me to stay in school until I’m at that point.”

Washington is awaiting the decision of Noah Dickerson, who declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. The 6-foot-8 averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.

Koby McEwen transferring to Marquette

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Steve Wojciechowski added a significant piece to his 2019-20 team over the weekend.

Koby McEwen announced his intention to transfer to Marquette from Utah State late Sunday evening.

“I would like to thank God, my family, inner circle and all the schools/coaches that recruited me during this process!” McEwen tweeted. “With that being said, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be furthering my college career at Marquette University.”

McEwen picked the Golden Eagles over fellow finalists Creighton and Grand Canyon after he decided to transfer when the Aggies announced South Dakota coach Craig Smith was taking over the program last month. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.

After sitting out the upcoming season, McEwen will have to years of eligibility remaining. Marquette went 21-14 last season, but missed the NCAA tournament for the third time in Wojciechowski’s four years in Milwaukee.

Minnesota adds Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis

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Minnesota has added some depth for the future.

The Golden Gophers received a pledge from Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis over the weekend, giving him a guard with two seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2019-20.

Willis will sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules.

The 6-foot-4 guard played a limited role in two seasons in Nashville, never averaging more than 18. 5 minutes or 5.2 points per game. He scored in double figures in three games as a sophomore.

Willis was a top-150 prospect in the Class of 2016 coming out of Fayetteville, Ark. with offers from the likes of Tulsa, Rice and Dayton. Vandy and Minnesota were his two high-major offers.

After being ranked in the top-15, Minnesota was beset by injury and suspensions last season as they limped to the finish line in a 15-17 season that featured losses in 12 of its last 13 games.

Richard Pitino still has two available scholarships for the 2018-19 campaign.

Report: Quade Green returning to Kentucky

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John Calipari just landed a critical recruit for 2018-19, and he was already on the roster.

Quade Green, who averaged 25 minutes per game last season, is returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, his mother told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday.

Given that six Wildcat players have entered the draft (Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hami Diallo are signing with agents), getting the 6-foot point guard back for a second season is a massive deal for Calipari and Co. The Wildcats have always been at their best under Calipari with returning players as the cornerstones of the roster with talented one-and-dones providing the extra boost. Getting one such returner at the point guard position is even more critical.

Green, who came to Kentucky as a five-star recruit last year, averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and a respectable 37.1 percent from 3-point range, an area where Kentucky continually needs help.

With Green back in the fold, Kentucky will now await the decisions of PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt, who are all going through the pre-draft process without hiring agents, which will potentially allow them to return to school and bolster a Kentucky roster has the look of a top-five team.

CBT Podcast: NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline: Winners, losers and who has the most on the line?

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The NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline came and went on Sunday night, meaning there are now roughly 60 college players that have signed with an agent and another 100 or so that have declared for the draft while retaining their college eligibility. Who were the winners? Who were the losers? Who has the most on the line? Sam Vecenie of the Game Theory podcast joined Rob Dauster to talk through all of it. The rundown:

OPEN: What do NBA teams value in players these days?

10:00: Villanova has more on the line during this testing the water process than anyone

19:00: Just how important was De’Andre Hunter’s decision to return to Virginia

25:25: Gonzaga getting Rui and Killian Tillie back makes them a title favorite

32:10: Nevada has a top ten season on the line with the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline

36:15: #RANTALERT – The decision to turn pro is so much more complicated than “is he a first round pick”

48:30: Rapid fire: Maryland, Kansas, Syracuse, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan. What do they have on the line?