Tennessee forward John Fulkerson returning for 6th season

Injured Tennessee forward John Fulkerson talks with Santiago Vescovi (25) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Alabama in the Southeastern Conference Tournament Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Forward John Fulkerson announced Friday he is returning to Tennessee for his sixth season, using the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fulkerson informed Tennessee of his decision and shared it on social media with a video.

The native of Kingsport, Tennessee, didn't get to play in the NCAA Tournament in the Volunteers' first-round loss to Oregon State. He had a concussion and facial fracture after taking two elbows to the face from Gators forward Omar Payne in a win over Florida in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Fulkerson said in the video that he has one more chance to walk off the court on his terms.

''My path still points to Rocky Top,'' Fulkerson said. ''This opportunity is too special to walk away from. Vol Nation, I'm back.''

The 6-foot-9 forward has started 53 of the 54 games played. He averaged 9.5 points and 5.5 points this season, a dip from his junior season when he scored 13.7 points and had 5.9 rebounds a game.

His return brings experience to a roster that will feature the No. 2 recruiting class as ranked by 247sports composite rankings. Coach Rick Barnes' latest recruiting class features a pair of five-star signees in forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, who reclassified from 2022, and point guard Kennedy Chandler.

That class also includes 7-foot forward Jonas Aidoo, wing Jahmai Mashack and Quentin Diboundje from France.

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