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Tennessee forward Rickea Jackson will return for 5th season: 'We are not done yet'

Tennessee star forward Rickea Jackson squashed all speculation about her future after she announced Monday her decision to return for her fifth season next year. Jackson averaged 19.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in her first regular season with the Lady Vols this year after she transferred from Mississippi State.

"I have been so happy during my time on Rocky Top," Jackson wrote on Twitter. "I am so grateful for my teammates and coaches and the endless bonds that I've created while being here. I appreciate all the support from our amazing fans for making this transition to the University of Tennessee so worth it. But we are not done yet.

"I'm coming back for another year!"

Jackson's return will be huge for the Lady Vols' campaign next season. The 6-foot-3 forward shot 55.2 percent from the field this season after she came off the bench for 11 games following a two-game suspension. Jackson will get another chance to team up with center Tamari Key, who missed all but nine games this season after doctors discovered blood clots in her lungs.

Rickea Jackson averaged 19.6 points per game this season for Tennessee. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
Rickea Jackson averaged 19.6 points per game this season for Tennessee. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images) (Eakin Howard via Getty Images)

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Jackson has been an electric scorer since her time at Mississippi State. She made the SEC All-Freshman team in 2019 and averaged 16.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game during her three seasons in Starkville before transferring to Tennessee.

It also has ramifications for the 2023 and 2024 WNBA drafts. Jackson was considered a top-five pick this year before she decided to return to Tennessee, and now will join a loaded 2024 class that could include players like Key, Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Cam Brink, Aaliyah Edwards and Paige Bueckers.

As for this year, Jackson led the Lady Vols to an SEC tournament championship game loss to South Carolina and will now play as the No. 4 seed against No. 13 Saint Louis. Yahoo Sports' Cassandra Negley ranked Tennessee the 12th-best team in the NCAA tournament.