KNOXVILLE - Tennessee walk-on point guard Brandon Lopez will miss his senior season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing pickup ball with his teammates over the weekend.
It's a tough blow for the Knoxville resident, who is well liked by teammates and has impressed the Volunteers' new staff this offseason.
First-year coach Donnie Tyndall has praised Lopez, one of few returning players in the program, for his leadership this summer, and the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder was pushing for a role this season.
"Obviously this is a huge blow to our team, as Brandon had worked himself into a position where he was competing for a starting role," Tyndall said in Tennessee's release.
"It's very disappointing for our team, but it's even more disappointing for a great young man who has worked extremely hard this offseason. Brandon's positive attitude and upbeat mentality will get him through this tough time."
Lopez, perhaps the lone true point guard on Tennessee's new-look roster, played nearly six minutes per game in 17 appearances two seasons ago, most notably helping the Vols edge Vanderbilt at home after Trae Golden was injured. He made seven appearances last season.
As a senior at Austin-East High School in 2011, Lopez averaged 25.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game.
The marketing major hopes to become a basketball coach once he finishes his career.
Tennessee may have found some needed help at point guard.
Former Liberty signee Braxton Bonds, who played at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, has accepted a walk-on spot with the Vols, CPA coach Drew Maddux confirmed Tuesday afternoon on Twitter.
Rated as a three-star prospect, the 6-1, 170-pound Bonds, part of Class AA championship teams at CPA in 2012 and 2013, signed with the Flames over scholarship offers from LSU, Middle Tennessee State and Miami (Ohio) in November.
He is listed as an active student in Tennessee's online directory, but his eligibility for the 2014-15 season is unclear.
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