With the Tennessee men's basketball team gearing up for its exhibition tour of Italy from August 5-15, in which the team will play four exhibition games against club and professional Italian teams, three returning upperclassmen have progressed well through offseason surgery and appear able to play in the tour.
Last season's wear and tear prompted senior forwards Jeronne Maymon and Dwight Miller as well as junior point guard Trae Golden to undergo offseason knee surgeries.
Golden had arthroscopic surgery on the meniscus in his left knee on May 15 and Maymon had his on June 8. The Vols' top two returning leading scorers from last season are participating fully in summer practices. Miller underwent a more severe surgery to repair a torn patella tendon on April 5 and has been limited to conditioning drills.
"The offseason workouts have been going really well," said Golden, who led the team in scoring and assists last year, averaing 13.6 points per game and assists 4.5 per game. "We as a team have been getting better and it's our second year with Coach (Cuonzo) Martin, so everything has been much more crisp. My knee is feeling stronger and stronger every day and I'm still working up to 100 percent, but I'm not trying to do to much on it 'cause it's a long year."
While all three players are expected to play in the exhibition tour of Italy, Martin stressed that they will exercise different lineups in the exhibition games.
"We have fifteen guys so we have a lot of different lineups and a lot of guys that will have an opportunity to play," said Martin. "We might start different lineups, but those guys will definitely get an opportunity to play, but how many minutes they'll see I don't know."
Both Maymon and Golden realize that staying healthy will be a major key for them this year as they are two players who provide a veteran presence and leadership.
"It's very vital for our team as a whole to stay healthy," said Maymon, who was named to All-SEC second-team last season. "Me and Trae playing a vital role on this team being the older guys and trying to lead the way and make sure our younger guys know what to do on and off the floor. We have to be healthy and ready to play."
Nonetheless, the Vols are excited to be heading overseas in early August, as the trip will not only let the team get back to action on the court against opposing teams, but also serve as somewhat of a vacation and learning experience as well. For Maymon and many others, it will be their first time playing overseas.
"I think taking a foreign trip like this is great for the new guys giving them an opportunity to play and practice around their teammates but also to experience the life in Italy," Martin said. "I think that will be a great experience for our guys an educational experience as well as a some type of vacation venue so to speak. But I think for our guys it's about getting better. We will try some new things as a staff, things we've put in and see how it works when we go to Italy against some good competition."