Just three games after adding Santiago Vescovi to the roster, Tennessee coach Rick Barnes and the team will be adding another new face to the court, except this one is a little more familiar.
On Tuesday afternoon, Tennessee announced that Arizona State transfer forward Uros Plavsic has been granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA and will be suiting up on the court for the Vols this season. His first opportunity to play will be this Wednesday night in Athens as the Vols travel to take on the Georgia Bulldogs.
Plavsic has been with the team since his arrival over the summer but has been denied an eligibility waiver twice since his arrival to Rocky Top. The ruling today was in reference to the final appeal Tennessee sent to the NCAA in Nov. 2019.
“We appreciate the committee’s work as this process ran its course,” said Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer in a statement made by the UT athletics program. “We’re thrilled that Uros will receive his opportunity to compete and that he no longer stands to lose a year of eligibility. Our compliance staff put a great deal of work and persistence into achieving this outcome.”
Just at the start of SEC conference play, Plavsic’s move from the bench to the court should pay dividends for the Vols. Plavsic, standing at seven feet tall, should be able to anchor down the center position that has gone relatively vacant for the 2019-2020 season so far.
John Fulkerson and Yves Pons have locked down the most post presence this year, but the ability to add Plavsic to the center of the court will allow both Fulkerson and Pons to use more space on the court and find more efficient shots.
The addition of Plavsic will provide a number of things for the team, including a better and more consistent rebounding presence, a defensive rim protector, and maybe most importantly, the ability to allow players such as Pons, Fulkerson, and Josiah-Jordan James to move more freely around the court without the demand of staying close to the basket.
Beginning his life in Serbia, Plavsic moved to Chattanooga and started playing basketball for Hamilton Heights High School upon entering the United States before committing to play at Cleveland State. Plavsic would end up de-committing and opening back up his enrollment, partly due to Cleveland State’s release of assistant coach Drazen Zlovaric.
Zlovaric is a fellow Serbian and was an important piece to Plavsic’s recruitment to Cleveland State, which showed when the duo would eventually end up at Arizona State. Zlovaric was hired an assistant coach just a few months after Plavsic had committed to play for the Sun Devils.
At the start of the 2019 offseason, the Arizona State basketball staff decided to let go of Zlovaric, and eventually Plavsic would be in search of a new school as well. Shortly after, Plavsic would announce his decision to transfer to Tennessee.
The journey for Plavsic at Tennessee has not been easy, as he has twice been stopped from playing by the NCAA. Plavsic has continued to practice with the team and be at all the games, so the transition on the court should be smoother than expected.
All the dunks. https://t.co/sRVSzR7fBh
— Houston Kress (@VolRumorMill) January 14, 2020
Considering the additions of Plavisc and Vescovi, the 2020 Tennessee Volunteers will look vastly different than the 2019 team that was playing just a few weeks earlier. After losing senior guard Lamonte Turner and moving Fulkerson to a less natural center position, the Vols were in desperate need of a point guard and rim protector, with more questions than answers. But the new year has brought a new gift for the Vols, and Vescovi and Plavisc should provide most of those answers.
Plavsic will be able to give Barnes a reliable big man to plant underneath the basket. The Vols currently don’t have any players standing taller than 6’9” and have been exposed for their lack of size by teams all throughout this season. Fulkerson and Pons have done their best, and promising freshmen Olivier Nkamhoua and Drew Pember are still being acclimated to SEC-level play, but there is no question that the Vols have been lacking in post presence.
A few weeks after the Vols were searching for answers in terms of depth and rotation, coach Barnes and his staff have a revitalized roster in search of a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
whole squad v excited pic.twitter.com/fS2UmbnOIp
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) January 14, 2020