Vicki Baugh will undergo surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee and faces up to six months of rehabilitation, it was learned Friday.
But despite the prognosis, the former Sacramento High School star said she remains in good spirits following Tennessee's 64-48 victory over Stanford in the NCAA women's basketball championship game Tuesday.
"I'm fine with it," she said during a phone interview from Knoxville. "I feel I can come back better than ever. The way I see it, the surgery will help my tendinitis and make my knee stronger than ever."
Baugh, a freshman, scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in that game, suffering the injury after scoring on a second-half layup.
Dr. Greg Mathien, Tennessee's team orthopedist, said an MRI confirmed that the injury, initially considered a sprain, was a torn ACL.
Baugh said she plans to rehabilitate the knee until she has surgery after final exams in early May.
Tennessee officials didn't give a timetable for Baugh's return to the court. But Barbara Baugh said her granddaughter is expected to be out at least six months.
"Naturally, I'm hurt by the situation," Barbara Baugh said. "But I'm very optimistic and confident that the doctors will help Vicki make a complete recovery."
Baugh landed awkwardly after the layup. After falling, the 6-foot-4 forward-center lay on the floor for about a minute before being helped off the court.
Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt said she hopes Baugh will recover soon.
"I'm excited about Vicki's future," Summitt said in a news release. "The knee will be a setback, but I know she will come back stronger and more determined than ever."
Baugh said she was not worried, focusing instead on the Lady Vols' eighth national championship.
"I'm still excited about what we accomplished as a team," she said. "The national championship was always a goal of mine. Had we lost every game in the regular season but still won the national championship, that would have been fine with me."
As a senior, Baugh led Sac High to the 2006-07 Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship. She was The Bee's Player of the Year in her junior and senior seasons.
This season, Baugh averaged 5.3 points and 4.0 rebounds as a key reserve for the Lady Vols (36-2). She was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week in late February.
Baugh is expected to start next season on a team that lost starters Candace Parker, Nicky Anosike, Shannon Bobbitt, Alberta Auguste and Alexis Hornbuckle. All were selected in Wednesday's WNBA draft.
"As a freshman, Vicki played a significant role for our basketball team," Summitt said. "Some of her key contributions came in the six games during our national championship run and in the Southeastern Conference title game.
"Things were really starting to come together for her, and it's just so unfortunate that she suffered a torn ACL."
Barbara Baugh said her granddaughter will remain in Knoxville during the offseason, attending summer school and rehabilitating her knee.