Evolution of John Fulkerson

Evolution of John Fulkerson

Tennessee Men’s Basketball has had many polarizing players to come through it’s program. From Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, Bernard King, and Dale Ellis, it is nothing new to have players that attract the media, but there is something different about one player that is on the roster this season.

John Michael Fulkerson was born April 29th, 1997, in Johnson City, Tennessee. He has played basketball his whole life but like most student athletes he got noticed in high school. His first two years he attended Dobyns-Bennett in Kingsport, but transferred to The Christ School. While attending The Christ School in Arden, North Carolina, he averaged 14.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.9 assist, and 3.6 blocks per game. Those numbers earned him Carolina’s Athletic Association 2016 player of the year and All-State honors. Coming out of high school he had a three (out of five) star rating, a .8601 composite score, and was in the top 250 players from that year, all according to 24/7 Sports. After a long recruitment process he signed with Tennessee, he was one of Rick Barnes’ first recruits.

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Now, there is no debate about the fact that college basketball is a completely different animal than high school. With that being said it’s understandable when you don’t see a player put up big numbers right away, due to the steep rise in competition. What can also impact a players numbers is when there are a lot of returning veteran players on the team they join. When this is the case, there are less minutes to be passed around leading to unimpressive numbers. With all this being said Fulkerson follows this pattern when looking at his stats. Freshman year Fulkerson was relatively healthy and averaged 4.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.9 assist, and 0.8 blocks per game. Sophomore year is where things went south for Fulkerson. With the exception of a few sprained ankles, Fulkerson had remained fairly healthy until he dislocated his right elbow. This prevented him from playing for the rest of that season and missing a piece of his Junior year. With that injury being in the biggest part of the season, it took a big toll on how Tennessee ended up performing that year.

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The 2019-2020 season has been the year of “The Incredible Fulk”, with 5 of 5 starters for Tennessee not returning this season the big question mark over this team was, who was going to step up? John Fulkerson has been that answer. Even with Tennessee not having the greatest record they are one of the more dangerous teams to play this season. John Fulkerson has put them on the map by averaging 12.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 assist, and 0.9 blocks per game this season. Those numbers don’t jump off the paper, and they certainly don’t scream “WOODEN AWARD WINNER”, but those numbers show the grittiness, dedication, and excellent work ethic that not only John Fulkerson possesses, but that the whole team embodies.