KNOXVILLE - Tennessee's basketball team likely will begin its season without one of its best players.
Second-year coach Cuonzo Martin said before practice on Wednesday afternoon that the All-Southeastern Conference forward Jeronne Maymon had a "minor setback" in his recovery from two offseason knee surgeries and may not be ready when the season begins two weeks from Friday.
"It's one of those deals," Martin said. "We're trying to see if he'll be ready for the start of the season. I don't know.
"We probably won't have him at the start of the season."
The Vols play in Puerto Rico Tip-Off, one of the preseason's high-profile tournaments, less than a week after the Nov. 8 opener against Kennesaw State.
Maymon, the 6-foot-7, 250-pound senior, was the Vols' most consistent offensive player in Martin's first season. He averaged 12.7 points and a team-leading 8.1 rebounds per game in his first year as a starter. After battling through most of the latter of the season with a knee injury that forced him to sit out Tennessee's National Invitation Tournament opener, Maymon underwent arthroscopic surgery to fix a torn meniscus in his right knee in March.
After rehabbing from that procedure, Maymon underwent surgery on his left knee in June after swelling prompted the procedure. Though he played in two of Tennessee's four games during its exhibition tour to Italy in August, he's not practiced at all during the Vols' preseason practices the past two weeks.
Though Martin said "obviously" Maymon's season isn't in jeopardy, the coach said his key forward is well behind in his conditioning.
"You're not talking about a guy who doesn't play," Martin said. "You're talking about a major factor in your program. He wants to be successful, and he wants the team to be successful.
"I think that's why his teammates respect him so much."