It was a difficult season for all college basketball players, as they fought through the endless Covid tests and quiet chaos. If you looked around the Tennessee basketball program, it came early, but hurt them often. John Fulkerson admitted during his media session today that he had dealt with Covid this past season, It was the first time we heard it from the program, as they weren’t allowed to disclose medical information.
Fulkerson was off and on this past season, mostly off. People were wondering why he didn’t look as energetic on the court, struggling to get up the floor. Well today, he finally tried to answer the questions.
“I did have COVID, and I think that COVID affected a lot more than my play. COVID affected a lot of people and a lot of different programs, and I think it can go as far as having the fans in the arenas affected a lot of different programs, people, and players. One of things for me is, you guys know how much of an energy player I am and how much I love the fans, and I really like playing off the fans and their energy. With them not being there, every team in this country had to create their own energy. Not only for me, but for every team out there, COVID affected them, whether they had it or not personally as far as their stamina, their conditioning, the energy, and things like that. I think all around it affected this whole program and that’s what makes me so excited for next year is it to be more of a normal year”.
One of the biggest prizes of the off-season for Tennessee was the announcement from Fulkerson that he would be returning next season. He had the ability to take an extra year if he wanted it, so he’s taking full advantage of suiting up for the Vols again.
“The more I thought about it, the more I thought about the way that I ended here at Tennessee. I was talking to Bob Kesling last night and I told him just my love for this university and when I put on a Tennessee jersey for this community, for the city of Knoxville. I just didn’t want to end it the way that I did, especially if I had the chance to do it again and finish on my terms, then I would love to do that and I would love to go out how I want to go out. So the more I thought about that, the more it got me excited to have the ability to return. During that week I just talked with my parents and some mentors of mine and kind of entertained the idea that I could come back and after lots of talking and consideration, I decided to.”
If Fulkerson hadn’t been injured in the SEC Tournament, there’s a good chance he wouldn’t be going through spring workouts right now with his teammates. The elbow from Omar Payne completely changed the direction of his career, at least for one more season.
“I think I would now be considering other options. I think that was really a big key factor that played into my decision-making to come back to Tennessee. I think that it was really God showing me that I had the opportunity and chance to do it one more time.”
Fulkerson added about his health, “Of course. This is our fourth week of spring practice, so I’ve been going for four weeks now and I feel fine. Everything is great and I’m so excited to get out here in the summer with my new teammates”.
As this new Tennessee team embarks on a new season, with new expectations, you can count on John Fulkerson making the most out of this opportunity and will go out on his own terms. But, he was excited about one certain thing about returning to Knoxville.
“Actually no, this will be the first time in seven years that I haven’t lived in the dorm. I’m excited about that because I lived in the dorm in high school for two years and then five years at Tennessee. That’s another thing I’m very excited about is not living in a dorm.”
As the newcomers arrive, the Vols will look to do something that could’ve been possible a year ago. Advance.