Lamonte’ Turner told reporters after No. 21 Tennessee knocked off Jacksonville State that his Tennessee career had come to an end.
Turner has dealt with shoulder issues for the better part of the last two seasons, and on Saturday afternoon, the fifth-year senior told reporters that he has thoracic outlet syndrome and will undergo surgery to fix it. That surgery will end his season.
“It is a tough decision for me to make, but I have to do it for my health,” said Turner, who had eight points and 11 assists in his final game. “If I don’t, it could get worse and stuff like that. It is the same injury that (Orlando Magic guard) Markelle Fultz dealt with. The only difference is mine is my left shoulder, not my shooting shoulder, so it is not as bad.”
Turner had been averaging 12.3 points, but he clearly has not been himself this year. Normally one of the most dangerous three-point shooters in the SEC, Turner is making just 31 percent from beyond the arc.
“It’s hurt my confidence. It’s hurt the way I feel about anything. It’s affected every area of my life in a way,” Turner told Wes Rucker of 247 Sports. “Basketball kind of stopped being fun for a while. It’s tough to deal with stuff like that, especially when you don’t know what’s wrong with you, you know what I mean? You’re expected to play at the highest level, and to be the player everyone saw you be before.
“To kind of take a step back and not know why, and no one really knows or cares, I don’t know. It’s been tough. Like I said, without the support of my teammates, and the support of last year’s teammates. They were definitely there when it first happened, and I first started having to deal with it. No one knew what it was. I’ve wondered, ‘Was it mental?’ We’ve all wondered if it was mental. We didn’t know anything, you know what I mean? It’s been extremely tough, but like I said, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates.”
The Vols are 8-3 on the season with this win.
“After he met with the media today, Lamonte and his family sat down with me and he informed me of his decision,” Tennessee head coach Barnes said in a statement released by the university. “He gave everything he had for 4 1/2 years, he earned his degree and he played a key role in establishing the culture of our program. We all love Lamonte and are saddened that he is unable to continue playing at this time. We’ll continue to support him as he takes his next steps.”