After waiting for months, it looks as though Arizona State transfer Uros Plavsic will have to wait some more before he can officially play for the Vols.
Tennessee released a statement on Saturday afternoon claiming that Plavsic, a seven-foot center who transferred from Arizona State to Tennessee this offseason, has been denied immediate eligibility by the NCAA. Tennessee Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer said in a statement that UT had already filed an appeal for Plavsic, but that, too, was denied.
“Uros Plavsic was denied clearance to compete with our men’s basketball program this season, and our appeal of that decision also was denied,” Fulmer said via a statement. “We are extremely disappointed – quite frankly, stunned – in this outcome, and feel strongly that very compelling facts support clearance for immediate eligibility. We are at a loss as to how this decision aligns with a mission of prioritizing the well-being of student-athletes, and we are struggling to provide an explanation to a deserving young man who stands to lose a year of eligibility.
“We will stand by Uros and support him in every way possible as we exhaust all options in advocating for his competitive opportunity.”
It would appear from Fulmer’s wording that he, Rick Barnes, and the rest of UT’s men’s basketball program will continue to appeal the NCAA’s ruling, but the odds seem slim that Plavsic will be eligible for the 2019-20 season.
Barnes has maintained for months that he believed the NCAA would rule in Plavsic’s favor, saying as recently as last month that he was still optimistic Plavsic would be eligible to play this upcoming season.
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.
Plavsic redshirted in his lone season at Arizona State, meaning he’s yet to play a single minute of college basketball. If this decision from the NCAA holds true, he won’t be able to finally see the court this season, either.
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.
Without Plavsic, Tennessee is thin in their front court. The Vols have 6-foot-11 forward Zach Kent as an option at the five, but it’s more likely that 6-foot-9 redshirt junior forward John Fulkerson will play more at the five. Freshmen Olivier Nkamhoua (6-foot-8) and Drew Pember (6-foot-9) are the only other true post options the Vols have on scholarship. Junior Yves Pons (6-foot-6) will likely plays as an undersized four this season as well.