KNOXVILLE - There's light at the end of the tunnel of Jeronne Maymon's misery.
His future at Tennessee now settled, the Volunteers' basketball standout can focus on what lies beyond this season.
Maymon spoke to the media before the team's practice Monday, less than 24 hours after making the decision to accept this as a redshirt year because of the lingering after-effects of two offseason knee surgeries.
Though admitting it's been miserable watching while his teammates practice and play games, Maymon seemed to maintain an upbeat demeanor.
"It's definitely been difficult and it's definitely been a long road, but you can't put your head down now," he said. "You've got to keep your hands to the plow and keep plugging. If I gave up now, there would be no next season.
"I have something to look forward to, and I'm ready for that."
The redshirt outcome was one coach Cuonzo Martin felt "all along," but he wanted Maymon to make his own decision.
"The best decision for Jeronne Maymon was the most important thing, because you have to look out for the well-being of the young man first, then you go from there," Martin said at his weekly news conference earlier Monday. "I had to allow him to make the decision and feel good about making the decision. I think we have enough pieces to be successful now.
"I think he's relieved about the decision, so he can go ahead and push forward and get to where he needs to be. I knew how I felt, but it had to be his decision. I knew at some point, if it got this late, I wasn't about to try to put the kid on the court and try to win some games and he's not 100 percent."
For Martin, being 100 percent means being ready to play 30 minutes in a game. Maymon resumed some on-court activity during Monday's practice, but it was limited to upper-body training and riding a stationary bike. Though he has not resumed running, Martin said team doctors and trainers have told him Maymon is on track to be "full go" in practice by the end of January.
"People don't realize how tough it is to tell yourself that you can't play, especially your senior season," point guard Trae Golden said. "For him, he's a strong guy, and for him to be able to push through what he's pushing through right now, I commend him for it. The type of player Jeronne his, he couldn't have been himself."
His own readiness to play his physical, blue-collar style weighed heavily in Maymon's decision, and he admitted he didn't want to be a liability to his team during SEC play, which Tennessee begins at home Wednesday against Ole Miss.
"If I wasn't going to be able to do that, I didn't want to be out there," he said. "I didn't want to come back and be a distraction. I didn't want to come back and have Coach try to put me in there when other guys have paved the way for themselves to play this year.
"I'm just going to take the back seat and let the guys do what they need to do."
The Vols have missed Maymon's production, defense and on-court leadership, but both he and the team are pressing forward now.
"I'm getting better every day," Maymon said. "I'm getting stronger every day, and that's really the most important part."