CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- John Shulman knew the news was coming, but that hardly made it any easier to stomach.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head coach confirmed Wednesday afternoon that senior point guard Dontay Hampton has a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, ending his playing career in the Blue and Gold.
Hampton received the news Wednesday morning, and is scheduled to have surgery Thursday on the same ACL he tore in July.
"It's partially torn, not fully torn, but it's basically the same thing with an ACL. He's finished," Shulman said. "It's what we expected, but it's still awful to have the doctor tell you that."
The devastating news brings finality to a nightmare final season for Hampton, a local product from Chattanooga Arts & Sciences.
He first tore the ACL during workouts last summer, forcing him to miss the first 15 games of the season while rehabbing. Hampton was cleared to play in early January and returned to the lineup January 10th, helping the Mocs rally to beat The Citadel in Charleston.
Two games later, Hampton scored a career-high 22 points and hit a 3-pointer that forced overtime in UTC's historic comeback win over Appalachian State, but broke his hand in the process.
He opted to play through the pain, bypassing surgery, but lasted just two games before re-tearing his ACL in last Thursday's loss at Elon.
"We all knew the risk, and every time you play you increase that risk," Shulman said. "He could have bagged it (when he tore it in July). He could have begged me to find him a hardship or just not played this year and gone to play professionally overseas, but it was always his dream to play point guard at Chattanooga.
"That's why it crushes you."
Shulman vowed to find a way to give Hampton a more fitting send-off than what he's endured the last few months. The 6-foot-1, 176-pound guard turned down scholarship offers to other schools to play for the hometown Mocs, then worked his way into a scholarship last season.
"Tay's my man. I can't have my last memory of him be looking up at me from the floor at Elon like a child who really needs his parent," Shulman said. "He deserves way better. Life isn't fair, and we don't always expect it to be fair, but he deserved way better.
"We'll figure something out."
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