Carter, a freshman guard from Flowery Branch, Ga., dislocated her right shoulder late in her senior season at Buford High School and sustained injuries to the same shoulder in three of the past four games while at Tennessee.
"It's something we tried to avoid," Head coach Holly Warlick said. "She hurt it in high school, and it just kept popping out, and it's something we had to do."
Carter's right shoulder appeared to come out of the socket in the Middle Tennessee and North Carolina games. In both cases, Carter could not return to the court after the injury, and she only logged five minutes against the Tar Heels, all in the first half.
Rather than endure a season of instability with the shoulder and never knowing if it would remain intact, Carter and her family decided surgery was her best option, according to Warlick.
"It was her decision," Warlick said. "She could still play this year with the hope it wouldn't go out. … I think it's the best decision."
Carter was held out of practice Wednesday at Pratt Pavilion and will be undergo surgery Thursday morning. Tennessee said it would release additional info after the surgery. Warlick said Wednesday that the doctors would relay the extent of the damage and what was needed to repair and stabilize Carter's shoulder.
Typically, the rehab time for shoulder surgery is four to six months, though that can be extended to eight months for extensive repair of the joint. That means Carter is done for the season, but, according to information provided by Tennessee to Warlick, the freshman can redshirt and would have four full years of eligibility in college.
"She has not gone over the limit," Warlick said.
Juco sophomore guard Jasmine Phillips returned to practice Wednesday because she has completed her fall semester exams. She had not played in the last two games to focus on academics and will not play in the following two games. Warlick said Phillips' absence in the upcoming games was the coach's decision.
Phillips had missed a portion of the season with a quad injury and has played in just two games. While she has the skill set and athleticism to help the team, especially on defense, Phillips hasn't had much chance to show it yet.
Carter, however, had played in all seven games this season and started five. She filled in at point guard while Ariel Massengale was limited by an Achilles tendon injury and jolted the team on defense, setting the tone on that side of the ball even though she was just a freshman. Carter also embraced the up-tempo style on offense and was well suited to run the floor, either with the ball or playing off of it.
"It hurts us as far as depth is concerned," Warlick said. "We know we may not be able to run as much as we have been because we could sub people in and out.
"I don't like it for the team, and I really don't like it for Andraya."
"Andraya helped Ariel relax and think, ‘I don't have to do this by myself,' " Warlick said. "The guards are going to have to step up."
Massengale will now rely on Williams, who has played point at various points in her Lady Vol career, and Simmons, who held down the position as a freshman but now averages 17.9 points per game and is better suited as a scorer instead of a setup player.
The ideal backup for Massengale is Williams – she has 17 assists to just six turnovers while Simmons has 16 assists and 20 miscues – because that allows Simmons to flourish off the ball.
"Kamiko Williams has got to step up her game," Warlick said. "Miko's position has been huge every year she's been here. If she wants to go out with a bang her senior year, she can step in and get some major minutes.
"We need her. We're counting on her."
With exams winding down – some players are finished while others complete all tests by Friday – the practices this week have returned to scheming for an opponent with Texas on tap next, following by Baylor with one day in between games.
Warlick noted the format was similar to the NCAA tourney – except for the fact the team will be on the road and must travel from Austin to Waco – in that two games are played over three days. The experience will be a good one for a young team. Only three players on the team, Simmons, Williams and Taber Spani, did the Texas-Baylor swing two years ago. It will be new venues for the sophomores and freshmen.
Despite classes being over and exams underway, the male practice players were on hand Wednesday and that allowed the coaches the opportunity to add wrinkles on offense and defense since the guys served as a scout squad and the Lady Vols could rotate on and off the court in groups of five.
While the two-week break allowed time for players to focus on academics because of shorter practice sessions, the Lady Vols sounded ready to face an opponent.
After opening the season with 26 turnovers in a loss to Chattanooga, Tennessee is now in the positive column for assists to turnovers at 122 to 120.
When asked what the team worked on during the break, Warlick rattled off assorted offensive schemes and defensive looks before smiling and saying, "Ball security."
INSIDE TENNESSEE VIDEO COVERAGE
Wednesday practice clips