KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee forward John Fulkerson will finally get out of the shoulder brace and sling he has worn on his left side and arm the past six weeks.
The 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman from Kingsport was all smiles talking about his future after what has been a long offseason filled with rehabilitation after he most recently underwent shoulder surgery in May to repair a torn labrum.
Fulkerson has been sidelined since the 10th game of last season (Dec. 15) when he suffered a broken right wrist and dislocated right elbow in a scary fall in the Vols’ win over Lipscomb.
“A few more months is the time frame for my recovery, it has been a long rehab process,” said Fulkerson, who was at Catholic High School Monday, supporting his Vols’ teammates as they wrapped up summer league play.
“It was hard sitting on the bench last season with long-term injuries, but it has also been a learning experience.”
Fulkerson will make the Aug. 2-12 trip to Europe with the Tennessee basketball program — highlighted by trips through Barcelona, Spain, and Paris — but he said he’ll be more of a tourist when not cheering on his team.
The Vols have several newcomers who will be ready to play in Europe, including freshmen Derrick Walker (6-8, 245 forward), Zach Kent (6-10, 220 center) and Yves Pons (6-6, 215 wing), along with graduate transfer James Daniel lll (5-10, 175, guard) and junior college transfer Chris Darrington (6-1, 175).
Fulkerson’s return will provide a lift, as he brought great energy and rebounding ability coming off the bench last season.
Fulkerson averaged 4.2 rebounds and 4.3 points in his 14.5 minutes per contest last season and quickly became a crowd favorite and spark of energy for his team.
“I think the hardest thing about wearing this has been trying to sleep,” Fulkerson said. “I like to sleep, so getting it off this week will be nice so I can walk normal again and do normal day-to-day things.”