The Vols junior guard is returning from ACL surgery in March following a season-ending injury on Feb. 28 against Arkansas. He has progressed in recent weeks to the point of participating in some full-court activity in practice, but No. 9 UT opted against Zeigler returning for the charity exhibition against the No. 4 Spartans at Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan.
Santiago Vescovi also will not play for Tennessee as he is home in Uruguay tending to a family matter. The senior guard is a two-time All-SEC selection.
Tennessee has a home exhibition against Lenoir-Rhyne on Tuesday before its opener against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 6 at Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center. It plays Wisconsin on Nov. 10 in Madison, Wisconsin, as its first marquee nonconference game.
Zakai Zeigler returning from ACL surgery for Tennessee basketball
Zeigler, a preseason All-SEC selection, indicated on Oct. 18 that he felt like he was “almost at 100%.”
“I am not there yet,” Zeigler said. “I feel like I am right there, right at the finish line.”
Zeigler averaged 10.7 points and 5.4 assists in 28.7 minutes per game as a sophomore to earn to earn All-SEC second-team honors. He rapidly developed into a star point guard in SEC play and had five double-doubles, including a 13-point, 11-assist effort against South Carolina on Feb. 25. He was injured the following game, tumbling to the court in the opening minutes with a noncontact injury after driving on the baseline. He had to be helped off the court.
Zeigler went from little-known recruit to breakout star as a freshman, earning all-freshman and all-defensive team honors. He averaged 8.8 points and shot 35.2% on 3-pointers as a freshman.
Tennessee basketball has a lot of returners
Zeigler and Vescovi are two of the key cogs returning for the Vols, who have six rotation players from last season returning. UT also has guards Jahmai Mashack and Josiah-Jordan James as well as forwards Jonas Aidoo and Tobe Awaka.
Tennessee added a pair of notable transfers in guards Jordan Gainey and Dalton Knecht. It also signed a solid crop of recruits highlighted by guards Freddie Dilione and Cameron Carr. Forwards J.P. Estrella and Cade Phillips form the frontcourt half of the class.
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Zakai Zeigler out for Tennessee basketball vs Michigan State exhibition