KNOXVILLE -- Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt has kept the door open all season on the possibility of Candace Parker appearing in her rookie season, but it's starting to close quickly.
Parker, the top signee in the best recruiting class of Summitt's career, has been sidelined all year since undergoing arthroscopic surgery in September to repair damage in her left knee.
The 6-foot-3 freshman returned to practice in early January, but she was sidelined again after experiencing significant swelling in the knee. She had been severely limited until late last week, when she slowly began working back into drills.
``I've been playing with pain for two years, and they told me that after this surgery I'd be fine,'' said Parker, arguably the most-hyped female prep athlete ever. ``At least there's a light at the end of the tunnel.''
That train may be going until next year. During a workout Monday inside Thompson-Boling Arena, Parker was pulled off the floor after defensive drills that required quick lateral direction changes. She developed a slight limp after one particular play, but she managed to walk it off before her day was done 15 minutes later.
``That's just not a good sign,'' Summitt said. ``It's not a good sign at all.''
This came on the heels of Summitt's announcement Sunday that a decision would be made on the future of Parker's season within a week.
``We'll still give it the whole week to decide,'' the longtime coach said, ``just because we said that's what we would do. But it's starting to look doubtful.''