"Drs. Greg Mathien and Russell Betcher performed surgery on Kelley's right knee this afternoon," Moshak said Tuesday. "The surgery addressed and corrected the patella subluxation of her knee."
Cain, a 6'6 center from St. Pius X High School in Atlanta, had a right kneecap that needed to be realigned because of the way she was born. The surgery corrected the biomechanical structure of how her kneecap will track. The condition was managed with strength training and a special taping technique, but in early November she stepped on a defender's foot at practice while planting under the basket, and the kneecap suffered a subluxation.
"In doing so, she twisted her knee which caused her kneecap to shift laterally," Moshak said.
A kneecap that does not track correctly remains unstable and can interfere with the knee's extensor process. After rehab, quad strengthening and rest did not sufficiently settle down Cain's knee in the month of November, the decision was made to undergo surgery. She will be lost for this season.
"Kelley's basketball career was literally in the hands of her medical team," said her post coach, Dean Lockwood. "I'm very pleased at what we've heard and now it starts the rehab and recovery process and that's where Jenny comes in and her staff.
"I'm just thankful that it went well and I'm thankful that the prognosis is good for that kid and in the long run – what they tell us – it's going to be the best thing she's ever done."
Cain had a very successful prep career at St. Pius X, where she won three state titles and tallied 2,017 points, 1,420 rebounds, 194 assists, 219 steals and 660 blocked shots in four seasons. Her career game highs included 32 points, 24 rebounds, 11 blocks, six assists and five steals. Cain was selected to a number of All-American teams, including USA Today, WBCA, McDonald's and Parade. She was also the 2007 Metro Atlanta Girls' High School Player of the Year and the Georgia Athletics Coaches Association 4A Player-of-the-Year in 2006 and 2007.
Cain made her Lady Vol debut in the scoring column in the second exhibition game against Carson-Newman – she played four minutes vs. the USA team after missing nearly two weeks because of a concussion sustained in an October practice – and in 25 minutes of play Cain was 5-11 from the field, 1-3 from the free throw line, recorded 12 rebounds (four offensive and eight defensive), scored 11 points and added four assists, three steals and two blocked shots.
"She was really starting to use her body and establish early position," Lockwood said. "I'm thinking to myself, ‘My gosh this kid is going to be a beast.' "
Cain hurt her knee the next day at practice on Nov. 7.
"We just have to postpone that for a year and let her now do what she needs to do to focus on recovering and getting back on the court," Lockwood said.
Cain will not make the trip to California for games at UCLA and Stanford next week – flying can cause swelling, especially with knee patients – and will instead go home to Georgia. Cain will report back to Knoxville with the team on Dec. 26.
"All knee operations concern me but from the message we got through Jenny it sounds like it was successful," Summitt said. "You never know what they're going to find but for Jenny to be real optimistic and she's doing well, it's always very rewarding to get that kind of news."