John Fulkerson Starting Professional Career In Europe

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    Former Tennessee power forward John Fulkerson is beginning his pro basketball career with the Leuven Bears, the team announced Wednesday.

    Located in Leuven, Belgium, the Bears are joining the BNXT League. The new league unites basketball in the Netherlands and Belgium. The Bears previously played in the Belgium Basketball League from 2002 until this past season.

    Leuven won the Belgium Basketball League in 2005 and finished in sixth in 2020-21 before making a run to the semifinals in the postseason.

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    Fulkerson heads to Leuven after a six-year college basketball career at Tennessee. The power forward’s career was filled with adversity including a torn labrum that ended his promising freshman season and hampered his development.

    The Kingsport, Tennessee native’s career highlighted in his redshirt-junior season when he earned Second Team All-SEC honors averaging 13.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. With senior Lamonte Turner sidelined with a shoulder surgery and senior Jordan Bowden’s shot struggling, Fulkerson became a go-to scoring threat and excelled down the stretch of the 2019-20 season.

    After the strong redshirt junior campaign expectations were high for Fulkerson in his senior season. Fulkerson contracted COVID-19 at the start of his redshirt senior season and struggled in what was poised to be his final ride in Knoxville.

    Fulkerson even went through senior day honors, planning on not using his COVID-19 eligibility relief. Fate intervened. Florida’s Omar Payne elbowed Fulkerson in the face in the SEC Tournament, sidelining the redshirt-senior for the rest of the season.

    After the unsatisfactory ending to the season, Fulkerson decided to return for one more collegiate season. The fan favorite adapted to a new role coming off the bench and found success, averaging 7.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

    The east Tennessee native helped end Tennessee’s 43-year SEC Tournament Championship drought in his final collegiate season.

    Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.