Rick Barnes discusses status of John Fulkerson after procedure for facial fracture
After supporting his Tennessee teammates in Nashville on Saturday, injured Volunteer John Fulkerson returned to Knoxville on Sunday to have a procedure for his facial fracture, a program spokesperson told reporters.
The Vols are heading to Indiana as a 5-seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. UT communications said Fulkerson will be evaluated day-to-day when it comes to his tournament status. Tennessee faces Oregon State in the opening round.
Vols coach Rick Barnes expressed confidence in his squad tournament’s outlook even if Fulkerson is sidelined.
“I think we’re good enough to play and beat anybody in the tournament,” Barnes told reporters, per Rocky Top Insider’s Trey Wallace.
“We’re not afraid to compete against anybody. Even if things don’t work out with John, we’ve got guys with the mindset to go in there and play anybody.”
Barnes added that Fulkerson had maintained a positive mindset since being injured by Florida’s Omar Payne in the quarterfinals. Payne elbowed Fulkerson twice. The second elbow hit Fulkerson hard in the head, sending him to the floor and forcing him to miss the remainder of the SEC Tournament with a concussion and facial fracture.
— Madison Blevins (@Madison4Blevins) March 14, 2021
Rick Barnes on John Fulkerson’s mindset over the past couple of days: He’s been great. You can imagine he wants to be out there. If he could, he would. It’s never about him. He wants his teammates to win. Nobody is pulling for him more than his teammates. #Vols
— Kellyanne Stitts (@KellyanneStitts) March 14, 2021