KNOXVILLE — In just four words Kingsport-native and Vols basketball fifth-year senior John Fulkerson made it official.

“Vol Nation, I’m back.”

Fulkerson announced in a video on Twitter and Instagram that he will take advantage of the NCAA’s ruling to allow student athletes an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic and return to Tennessee.

“My path still points to Rocky Top,” Fulkerson says in the emotional video. “This opportunity is too special to walk away from.”

Fulkerson has appeared in 132 games as a Vol and has recorded 875 points and 511 rebounds. His .567 career field-goal percentage currently ranks as the sixth-best in program history.

Over the last two seasons, Fulkerson has averaged 11.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while starting 55 of the 56 games in which he appeared.

Fulkerson specifically referenced his desire from a young age to wear the orange and white, as well as the way his senior year ended as a reason for returning to Tennessee.

“They were like heroes to me,” Fulkerson said of VFL’s Wayne Chism, Skylar McBee and Tyler Smith, all from the state of Tennessee. “They helped me to believe that maybe one day I could follow in their footsteps.

“Imagine if I could go back in time and talk with that young version of myself in Kingsport,” he says. “What would he think of the last time I walked off the court in Nashville. What would he think if I told him I have the chance to do it one more time, to walk off the court on my own terms? I think I know what he would want me to do, and I am not about to let him down.”

Fulkerson will continue to pursue his master’s degree, having earned his undergraduate degree in May 2020.