Tennessee freshman guard Andraya Carter will undergo season-ending surgery on her right shoulder Thursday, limiting the 13th-ranked Lady Vols’ backcourt depth as they enter the toughest portion of their schedule.
Carter hurt her shoulder initially Nov. 18 in a 79-67 victory at Miami. She hurt her shoulder again and was helped off the court Nov 28 in an 88-81 overtime victory over Middle Tennessee. When she returned to action Dec. 2 in a 102-57 triumph over North Carolina, Carter aggravated the injury.
The 5-foot-9 guard had injured the same shoulder late in her senior season at Buford (Ga.) High School.
“She hurt it in high school, and it just kept popping out,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said.
Warlick said Carter was given the option of continuing to play and hoping the injury didn’t get worse. Carter and her family chose to have surgery.
“I think it’s the best decision,” Warlick said. “I didn’t tell her one way or another. I wanted them to make the best decision, but I totally understand it.”
Carter had been averaging 5.3 points and 20.6 minutes per game. She started each of Tennessee’s first five games before coming off the bench in the last two contests.
Warlick said the Lady Vols plan to seek a medical redshirt for Carter.
Her injury comes as Tennessee (6-1) begins a demanding stretch of games against No. 18 Texas, No. 3 Baylor and No. 1 Stanford. The stretch starts Sunday at Texas.
“She’s a great leader,” Warlick said. “It’s going to hurt us as far as our depth. We may not be able to run as much as we have been because we could sub people in and out.”
Carter’s injury creates some uncertainty behind starting point guard Ariel Massengale.
This could create an expanded role for senior Kamiko Williams, who has averaged 5.1 points and 15 minutes per game this season. Junior Meighan Simmons, the Vols’ leading scorer and first-team shooting guard, also can help out at point guard.
“We’re going to have to do it by committee,” Warlick said. “I hate it for Ariel. I think Andraya helped Ariel kind of relax and think, ‘You know, I don’t have to do this by myself.’ It’s going to be great for Andraya to stick around and be around Ariel and make sure she gives support watching the games and when (Massengale) comes off the court. Guards are going to have to step up.”