Tennessee coach Rick Barnes announced during his press conference on Monday that the SEC’s second-leading scorer Kevin Punter Jr. is currently “day-to-day” with a stress fracture in his right foot.
“The fact is he was over in the gym this morning and had a boot on,” Barnes said. “He said it was feeling a little bit better, but it is still going to just be day-to-day. I don’t see him playing, certainly, Wednesday night, but I have been fooled before. We are just going to monitor it day-to-day.”
Punter sat out Tennessee’s last game against LSU, a home win for the Volunteers. He’s averaging 22.2 points and 3.5 assists on the season. His scoring is good for 11th per game nationally and second only to Stefan Moody in the SEC. Barnes noted though that Punter has not been his usual self for the last two weeks before shutting him down on Saturday.
“He told me that the last couple weeks, his foot would hurt a little bit, then it’d go away a couple days, then come back, Barnes said. “He said it really started bothering him in the warmups of the Kentucky game. It’s hard. I hurt for him. We all do because he is, first of all, a great person. He works hard. He is a great teammate. He has been a joy to be around. You hope that he will have a way to maybe get back and work through it.
Punter has worked extremely hard to put himself into this successful position, putting countless hours in the gym to continue to hone his craft. He’s upped his scoring averages from 10 points per game last season to his levels this season, putting himself on the radar of NBA teams. Barnes was asked about Punter’s NBA chances at the press conference.
“There is no doubt, I think, that he will get a shot at it,” Barnes said. “I think he will be one of those guys that will be invited to some camps. Once people really get into it and get to know him, they are going to want him because of all the intangibles. He is just getting started (as to) how good of a basketball player he can be.”
Punter is currently No. 122 on CBS Sports NBA Draft Big Board, and will absolutely be invited to workouts and, at the very least, get a summer league audition due to his scoring prowess.
Hopefully, Punter will return to action before then. But if not, this is certainly not the last you’ll hear of him.