KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UTSports.com) – University of Tennessee Lady Vol basketball redshirt junior Kelley Cain will forego her final year of eligibility, marking the end of her collegiate career, head coach Pat Summitt announced on Tuesday. Cain is scheduled to graduate from UT with a degree in marketing (logistics concentration) this semester.
“We appreciate all that Kelley brought to our Lady Vol basketball program,” said Summitt. “It’s truly unfortunate that her career was cut short, but her health and well-being must come first. Kelley was a great teammate and oftentimes had to push through a great deal of pain to play. She is a winner who concludes her UT career with a degree in hand, and we wish her continued success in life.”
A 6-foot-6 center from Atlanta, Ga., Cain will go down in the record books as one of the best shot blockers in Southeastern Conference history. She totaled 228 swats – third-most in Lady Vol history – in just 92 games over three seasons, a 2.5 bpg average, and led the SEC in blocks in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
“It has been my pleasure and privilege to be a part of the Lady Vols for the past four years,” said Cain. “After numerous months of prayer, doctors’ visits and treatments, I have accepted the fact that I am currently unable to meet the demands of playing collegiate basketball. My family and I must now focus on my quality of life. I will miss everyone involved in the Lady Vol program from my teammates and coaches to the managers, trainers and strength coaches. I am so blessed and very thankful for the opportunities I have had while at Tennessee.”
As a redshirt sophomore in 2009-10, Cain set a UT single-season record with 113 blocks, including a Tennessee single-game record of 12 blocks against 20th-ranked LSU on Feb. 22, 2010 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Over her career, Cain averaged 8.6 ppg and 6.2 rpg and shot 60.6 percent from the field, while making 59 starts. Her career field goal percentage is the third-best in Tennessee history behind only Cindy Noble’s 62.5 mark, set from 1978-81, and Trish Roberts’ 1976-77 percentage of 64.7.
Cain came to Tennessee in 2007 as a McDonald’s All-American after winning three state titles at St. Pius X High School in Atlanta. She underwent surgery to correct a patella subluxation of her right knee in December 2007 and redshirted the 2007-08 season.
In April 2009, Cain had an additional surgery to remove the screws placed in her knee when she had the Fulkerson procedure in 2007.
Throughout her time at UT, Cain was hampered by nagging injuries to her hip, back and knees, limiting her to just 19.9 mpg for her career. Despite not always being 100 percent physically, Cain gave it her all each time she stepped on the court.
“The UT medical staff supports Kelley’s decision to discontinue playing,” said UT Team Physician Dr. Rebecca Morgan. “She has been experiencing ongoing arthritic changes incurred after years of playing competitive basketball and it has taken a toll on her body.”
A key member of the 2008-09 team, Cain emerged as a force in the pivot and worked her way into the starting line-up in the final month of the season and earned nine starts. Overall, she played in 27 games and averaged 8.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.8 bpg and shot 61.8 percent from the field. As a starter, her numbers jumped to 11.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg and a 71.8 percent accuracy from the field.
She helped the Lady Vols nab back-to-back SEC regular season and tournament sweeps in her final two campaigns in 2010 and 2011. Her most complete season came in 2009-10, when she started 32 of 33 games and averaged 10.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 3.4 bpg. She captured First Team All-SEC, SEC All-Defensive Team honors and SEC Academic Honor Roll that season. Cain was also recognized as a 2010 State Farm Coaches’ All-America NCAA Division I Honorable Mention.
In 2010-11, Cain averaged 7.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg and 2.1 bpg, starting in 18 of 32 games. Her best performances came at LSU on Jan.2 and versus Ohio State in the Dayton Regional Semifinal on March 26. She scored a season-best 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting and recorded eight boards and four blocks versus the Tigers in the SEC opener. Against the Buckeyes, she scored 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting to lead the Lady Vols to the Elite Eight.
In the upcoming 2011-12 season, Tennessee now returns 10 players and adds three signees to the roster.