Tennessee's Tamari Key out for season with blood clots in lungs

Tennessee women's basketball senior center Tamari Key will miss the remainder of the 2022-23 season after blood clots were discovered in her lungs, the program announced Thursday.

Key, a four-year starter who missed her first game as a Lady Vol on Tuesday, will receive care under the guidance of the University of Tennessee Medical Center and Tennessee athletics team physicians, the team said. Tennessee said she is expected to make a full recovery.

"My sole concern right now is that Tamari continues to get the medical care and guidance she needs and begins the gradual process of healing and returning to full strength," Tennessee coach Kellie Harper said in a statement. "This is much bigger than basketball. We are so grateful that this medical condition was caught. Our entire program will be right beside Tamari during this process and welcomes prayers and positive thoughts from Lady Vol Nation and beyond."

After averaging 10.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a junior in 2021-22, Key entered her senior season as a preseason All-SEC first-team pick and on the Naismith Trophy watch list. Last season, she was a finalist for the Lisa Leslie Award, given to the nation's best center, and a defensive player of the year semifinalist.

The news comes as the Lady Vols (5-5) have stumbled early on in the season, falling from a preseason top-five team with Final Four aspirations to unranked by the fourth poll of the season. Tennessee evened its record at .500 Tuesday without Key behind a 69-39 win over Chattanooga.

In addition to Key's absence, the squad has also been without top scorer Rickea Jackson, a transfer from Mississippi State, for the past two games due to a "coach's decision." Harper has said she will be out indefinitely.

Tennessee has a massive upcoming nonconference battle versus Stanford on Dec. 18.