On Wednesday, reports came out that the NCAA would be introducing new language to their rules on transfers to make it more difficult for players to gain immediate eligibility. So far, 68 percent of immediate eligibility requests in football have been approved this offseason. Despite that actually being two percentage points lower than the previous four years combined, the NCAA has seen to it to make gaining immediate eligibility more difficult across the board.
Despite this, Tennessee head basketball coach Rick Barnes isn’t worried about UT’s waiver for one of their transfers.
A little over a month ago, Tennessee added Arizona State transfer Uros Plavsic to their roster. The seven-foot Serbian center elected to transfer from the Sun Devils to play for the Vols. Barnes said a month ago that Tennessee had applied for a waiver with the NCAA and that he fully expected Plavsic to gain immediate eligibility.
“I think he has a situation to where his is a good case,” Barnes stated at the SEC spring meetings. “I think that if they look at it and understand…he had committed to Cleveland State then from Cleveland State to Arizona State. He was moving basically with a coach, and when that coach was no longer there, he lost his whole support system and wants to get back closer to home. So I think that we can, in that situation, apply for a waiver.”
On Wednesday, Barnes didn’t change his tune despite the recent changes from the NCAA.
According to quotes from 247Sports, Barnes was asked about the new rules during the SEC basketball coaches summer teleconference. Though the NCAA is cracking down on immediate eligibility waivers, Barnes thinks Plavsic’s case should be pretty cut-and-dry.
“I know stuff came out on tightening up the rules, but if there is anybody that has ever deserved to have an appeal to play, it’s him (Plavsic),” Barnes said on Thursday. “Once they review it, I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t get to play.”
Plavsic came to the United States from Serbia, and he enrolled in Hamilton Heights down in Chattanooga for high school. There, Plavsic was recruited by former Georgia and UT-Chattanooga player Drazen Zlovaric while he was an assistant at Cleveland State. Plavsic committed to Cleveland State, but when Zlovaric, a fellow Serbian, was let go from the Vikings’ staff, Plavsic reopened his recruitment.
From there, Plavsic committed to and ended up signing with Arizona State. Just a few months later, Zlovaric was hired as an assistant under head coach Bobby Hurley for the Sun Devils.
This offseason, Hurley elected not to retain Zlovaric, and that had an impact on Plavsic’s situation at Arizona State. Plavsic decided to transfer shortly after, and now he’s at Tennessee.
Barnes believes that ordeal should be enough to gain immediate eligibility for Plavsic for the 2019-20 season.
“It’s the circumstances that he’s been under,” Barnes added. “I think, again, if they look at it the way we think they should, I just don’t see how he can’t be allowed to play.”
The Vols will need Plavsic in the frontcourt this season after missing out on Virginia Tech grad transfer Kerry Blackshear and losing a ton of production from their frontcourt this offseason.
Blackshear announced late Wednesday night that he would be using his last year of collegiate eligibility to play for Florida, choosing the Gators over Tennessee, Kentucky, and returning to Virginia Tech. Couple that swing and miss with the Vols losing starting center Kyle Alexander, two-time SEC Player of the Year and All-American forward Grant Williams, and backup forward Derrick Walker this offseason, and UT doesn’t return much from big men for the 2019-20 season.
Coming out of high school, Plavsic was a four-star prospect according to 247Sports. Their analysis had him rated as the No. 120 overall player and No. 16 center in the 2018 class. He averaged 9.6 points and 7.5 rebounds for Hamilton Heights and came on strong in the last 12 games of the season, helping his team go undefeated in that stretch and go 28-7 overall. In those 12 games, Plavsic averaged 13.5 points and 9.4 rebounds after being inserted into a starting role.
Plavsic used his one year at Arizona State to redshirt and put on some much-needed weight. The seven-foot center joined the Sun Devils weighing around 215 pounds, but he measured in at 240 pounds by the end of his redshirt freshman season.