A career likely has concluded.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's basketball captain tapped out at halftime of an 85-61 loss at Elon on Thursday.
Senior Dontay Hampton reinjured his right knee on the last play of the first half and is not likely to suit up in blue and gold again.
"I would be shocked if he ever played again at Chattanooga," UTC coach John Shulman said Friday by phone. "It's hard to have precise news, because we're on the road. It doesn't look good. It's swollen and painful, and I don't know -- without an MRI -- if it was hyperextended or he tore his ACL again. We won't know that until we get home."
The Mocs (8-12, 3-4 SoCon) will play at UNC Greensboro (5-13, 3-4) on Sunday at 2 p.m. Their senior leader will be on the sideline instead of on the court.
Hampton hurt his repaired knee in the final seconds of the first half. He drove into a crowded lane, lofted a shot and immediately began limping. He did not fall down.
"We were holding for one shot, and when he planted something happened, because he came out of that pile looking at me," Shulman said. "He's looking at me for help. He looked at me and said, 'Sorry, Coach, I'm done.' It's a very difficult time at that moment.
"I was hoping that he was in a panic."
Replays show that game officials waited until Hampton left the court before starting the countdown clock for halftime.
"The quicker we can get some finality, that's probably better for our team," Shulman said before Friday practice. "It's depressing. The kid deserves way better than what he got."
Hampton spent the last six months of 2012 rehabilitating his torn right ACL. He helped UTC recover from a 10-point deficit at The Citadel in his first game back, which ended with the Mocs winning 70-65. He played in the Mocs' 86-59 whipping at College of Charleston.
He also played in UTC's historic comeback against Appalachian State in which UTC trailed by 19 points with 6:36 to play. He hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left in that game to force overtime.
He broke his right hand in the final seconds of that victory when he touched the court to remain upright after a foul. His season seemed to be over after that game. His hand looked like a balloon -- knuckles weren't visible -- when UTC played Western Carolina.
Hampton played despite the pain.
"It's terrible," said Arts & Sciences coach Mark Dragoo, who coached Hampton to more than 100 wins in his high school career.
"You don't think lightning strikes twice, let alone three times," Dragoo said. "He was willing to make the sacrifice to play with his [broken] hand, and his team knows that sacrifice."
After graduating from Dragoo's program, Hampton chose to walk on at UTC instead of accepting other scholarship offers so he could be a father figure to younger brother Malik.
Shulman granted Hampton a scholarship before the start of last season because he earned it.
"If we get him back, it's a huge bonus," Shulman said. "I'm not sure that's going to happen."
Hampton averaged 9.8 points and 3.8 rebounds his four and a half games. Shulman said Friday's pre-practice meeting centered on moving on without Hampton.
"You figure it out on the fly," Shulman said. "We have to find it while our confidence is shot and we're fragile. We have a lot of disappointed guys."
Shulman noted that UTC won in Birmingham over Samford, the Southern Conference North Division leader, without Hampton.
"We'd better plan to move on without him," Shulman said. "We're getting ready to practice and everybody is doing their thing. Then there's Tay in the corner wearing sweats and Crocs."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...
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