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‘God Is Great’: Zakai Zeigler Reflects On Knee Injury A Year Later

Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

On Feb. 28, 2023, Tennessee point guard Zakai Zeigler hobbled off “The Summit” in tears. A sold out Thompson-Boling Arena came to a hush, everyone knowing that an injury that kept one of the SEC’s toughest players down was serious.

“I just know that they know (Zeigler) like I know him, that if he stayed down, he’s hurt,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said following the Arkansas game. “I know that they know. They know that he pops right back up every single time when he goes down. I think they knew it was serious, I do.”

On Feb. 28, 2024, Zeigler walked off the court clapping as Tennessee overcame a second half deficit to defeat Auburn 92-84 in a critical game for its SEC Championship hopes.

365 days after tearing his ACL, Zeigler once again proved that he’s not only the same player he was before the injury but an even better one. On a night where Zeigler struggled for 18 minutes and wasn’t at his best, the junior point guard totaled 17 points, nine assists and four rebounds while totaling an uncharacteristic five turnovers— four in the first half.

Following the win, Zeigler touched on what his journey back to the court and this season has meant after the career changing moment a year prior.

More From RTI: Dalton Knecht Makes His Case For National Player Of The Year Against Auburn

“Well God is great,” Zeigler said. “That’s all I can really say, you know it was tough, you know, last year going down but fought through adversity, the people around me, they just picked me up and God is great. That’s all I can really say to that.”

With improved offensive weapons around him, Zeigler is playing the best basketball of his career. He’s getting everyone involved and is shooting at much higher percentages with less of the offensive burden on his shoulder.

After averaging 10.2 points (35 FG% and 29 3PT%) and 6.5 assists per game in SEC play last season, Zeigler is averaging 13.7 points (46 FG% and 39.5 3PT%) and 7.1 assists per game in conference play.

“He is just invaluable with what he does,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said after the Vols’ win over Texas A&M. “He is a special player.”

That improved play and control of the game is why he gave himself a B- and scoffed at Dalton Knecht giving him an A- for his 17-point, nine-assist performance against Auburn.

Zeigler’s arguably the best point guard in the SEC. Doing it all after spending his entire offseason rehabbing a knee injury.

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