HomeBasketballLady Vols basketball star Rickea Jackson out for Tennessee vs. Eastern Kentucky

Lady Vols basketball star Rickea Jackson out for Tennessee vs. Eastern Kentucky

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Lady Vols basketball will be without Rickea Jackson for an eighth straight game.

Tennessee’s star forward was not warming up with her team ahead of the matchup with Eastern Kentucky (8-1) on Sunday (2 p.m. ET, SEC Network+) at Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center. Jackson hasn’t played since Tennessee’s 92-91 loss at Florida State on Nov. 9 when she had 31 points and 17 rebounds.

The Lady Vols (4-5) had junior forward Jillian Hollingshead back, though, after she missed her first game of the season on Wednesday. She started the first eight games this season and is averaging seven points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes per game.

But sophomore guard Avery Strickland was not warming up with the team Sunday, either. She previously missed four games due to concussion protocol.

Jackson has been sidelined with a lower leg injury, though her progress has been more evident recently after a month without an update. Jackson has not worn a boot on her right foot for the last two games and UT assistant coach Samantha Williams has posted multiple videos of Jackson since the boot came off. One was of Jackson shooting 3-pointers in Pratt Pavilion on Monday and the other showed Jackson shuffling through an agility drill with the caption “soon” on Saturday.

Tennessee has struggled without Jackson on the court, especially during their toughest stretch of the season. The Lady Vols played four ranked opponents without Jackson and lost to three of them. Then they lost to Middle Tennessee State on Wednesday for the first time in program history without Jackson and Hollingshead.

Besides being the centerpiece of Tennessee’s offense, Jackson provides a strong presence in the post and on the boards, where the team does not have depth to spare. She’s averaging 22 points, 12 rebounds and three assists in 31 minutes per game this season.

Jackson chose to return for a fifth season instead of entering the 2022 WNBA Draft, where she was a projected lottery pick. She spent the first three seasons of her college career at Mississippi State, where she played under three head coaches before entering the transfer portal halfway through her junior year.

Jackson was a first-team All-SEC selection last season and made multiple preseason watch lists this year, including the Cheryl Miller Award, the Naismith Trophy and the Wade Trophy. Jackson was a top-five finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award last season.

Cora Hall covers University of Tennessee women’s athletics. Email her at cora.hall@knoxnews.com and follow her on Twitter @corahalll. If you enjoy Cora’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that allows you to access all of it.

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