Home » Lady Vols basketball star Rickea Jackson, Jillian Hollingshead out for Tennessee vs. MTSU

Lady Vols basketball star Rickea Jackson, Jillian Hollingshead out for Tennessee vs. MTSU

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Rickea Jackson is not warming up with Lady Vols basketball for the seventh straight game.

Junior forward Jillian Hollingshead was also out due to concussion protocol, per Tennessee athletics, as the Lady Vols began warmups on Wednesday. Jackson remains sidelined with a lower leg injury that has kept her out of the last six games.

Tennessee (4-4) faces Middle Tennessee State (6-3) on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) at Propst Arena at the Von Braun Center.

Jackson’s progress has been more evident this week after nearly a month without an update. She was not wearing a boot on her right foot at Sunday’s game, and UT assistant coach Samantha Williams posted a video of Jackson dressed for practice and shooting 3-pointers in Pratt Pavilion on Monday. But Wednesday was not the night she returned to play.

Hollingshead missed her first game of the season Wednesday. She has started all eight games this season and is averaging seven points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes per game.

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 have struggled without her, especially during their toughest stretch of the season. They played four ranked opponents without Jackson and lost to three of them.

Lady Vols coach Kellie Harper said Friday she is “really proud” of how Jackson has handled the situation. She has engaged on the sidelines and her leadership has still made an impact.

“I think she’s done an admirable job, I really do,” Harper said. “I think it’s a tough position, and we’ve asked her to stay engaged with her teammates. We’ve asked her to be there for them, and obviously she couldn’t be at the game on Wednesday, but her voice in the huddles has been so positive and very helpful for them.”

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.

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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.