Tennessee Basketball: Uros Plavsic set to make immediate impact for Vols

After multiple appeals were lodged, Uros Plavsic was finally granted relief by the NCAA to join his Tennessee Basketball teammates.

Tennessee Basketball is firmly on the bubble when it comes to discussing their NCAA Tournament prospects. Adding Uros Plavsic to the active roster could be the difference between qualification and a postseason spent away from the brightest lights.

In a Tuesday afternoon tweet, the Volunteers revealed the news fans have been waiting for since the beginning of the season: Plavsic has arrived.

This is not Plavsic’s first “arrival” in Knoxville, so to speak. After not playing during his freshman season with the Arizona State Sun Devils, the Serbian big man chose to transfer to Tennessee ahead of his sophomore season. Coaching staff upheaval in Tempe was cited as a factor in Plavsic’s decision to transfer and the Vols expected the big man to be eligible immediately.

On November 2, the NCAA ruled against the program, declaring Plavsic ineligible (and that included an initial appeal of the decision). Tennessee has spent the past two and a half months awaiting a decision on their second appeal.

“We appreciate the committee’s work as this process ran its course. We’re thrilled that Uros will receive his opportunity to compete and that he no longer stands to lose a year of his eligibility,” athletic director Phillip Fulmer stated after the news broke (h/t 247 Sports).

The Serbian played high school in Chattanooga, so his return to Tennessee was practically a homecoming after his unsuccessful stint with Arizona State. Drazen Zlovaric, a former Arizona State assistant whose firing pushed Plavsic away from Tempe, was a graduate assistant with the Vols previously.

Plavsic was eligible as soon as Wednesday’s blowout road loss to Georgia and Rick Barnes immediately showed faith in his new addition, playing him for 17 minutes during his debut. The forward went 2-for-6 from the field, scoring five points and grabbing five rebounds. That’s not a great stat line considering the minutes, but Plavsic hasn’t played a sanctioned basketball game in well over a year, so some rust can be expected.

Speaking to 247 Sports after the game, Plavsic appeared to be grateful to simply be back on the court.

“It was amazing,” Plavsic said in regards to learning about his eligibility. “I was shocked. I am not going to lie. I was about to cry. I was happy at the same time. My emotions, everything was going through my head. All the work I have put in. My teammates were happy for me. Everybody, the coaches. I am just ready to work my way back and help my team.”

Whether or not Plavsic’s presence is enough to push the Vols back towards the NCAA Tournament is unclear, especially after his debut. He wasn’t an other-worldly recruit coming into college, with 247 Sports ranking him as the No. 184 prospect in the Class of 2018, a three-star prospect. But Tennessee didn’t bring in a single Top 100 prospect from 2014 to 2018 and that hasn’t stopped them from making it to the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons as those commits have come of age.

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Whether he rises to the occasion or not, there’s no situation in which adding Uros Plavsic to the active squad is a bad thing for the Tennessee Volunteers.