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Buford's Carter working her way back from surgery for Vols

DULUTH --Wearing her Tennessee warm-up suit instead of a game uniform, Andraya Carter finds it hard to stay seated during games.

The Volunteer freshman and former Buford star pops up to cheer constantly during games, when she's not anxiously squeezing the blue racquetball that provides stress relief and therapy to her injured shoulder.

"I get pretty fired up," Carter said.

The 5-foot-9 guard would rather be on the court, but right shoulder surgery ended her first college season early and also kept her from playing in this week's Southeastern Conference Women's Basketball Tournament in her hometown. Though her Buford teams were very successful, she never played at the Arena at Gwinnett Center because the Wolves' Final Four games were always in Macon.

She thought her chance would come this week, but she re-injured her shoulder in an awkward fall Nov. 18 at Miami in Tennessee's fourth game of the season. The issue kept bothering her and her promising season was shut down after seven games. Before she was hurt, Carter had started five games and averaged 5.3 points.

Her rehabilitation is going well, though she can only shoot left-handed and dribble at this point. She has an appointment this week to see if she's cleared for normal shooting.

"We do a lot of just strengthening (in rehab), not too heavy with weights, light weight and a ton of reps," Carter said. "That's the stage we're at right now. A lot of range of motion, trying to move my arm in different directions. ... There's not really a target date for coming back. I have the rest of season and the offseason to get it better. I made a bet with my two athletic trainers that I'll be shooting by April, so we'll see about that one."

Until then, she will be cheering on her top-seeded Volunteers as they move toward the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Her on-floor goals will have to wait until next season.

She also has one good incentive for the 2013-14 season --the SEC Tourney is back in Gwinnett for 2014.

"It will be so great (to play in Duluth next season)," Carter said. "I love my role on the team and playing with these girls. It will be exciting to come back and get to play here finally."