Barnes: Vols Will Appeal NCAA Ruling on Uros Plavsic Again

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    (Photo via @urosp34 on Twitter)

    On Saturday, Tennessee announced that they had received a ruling from the NCAA in regards to the immediate eligibility waiver for Arizona State transfer Uros Plavsic in men’s basketball. The NCAA had denied the waiver for Plavsic to play this season for the Vols, and Tennessee had already filed one appeal and had been denied that appeal as well.

    But UT isn’t giving up.

    According to quotes gathered by Grant Ramey of 247Sports, head coach Rick Barnes said during his appearance at the Knoxville QB Club on Monday that Tennessee has another appeal process they can go through for Plavsic, and they plan to do so.

    Barnes later added that he has yet to receive an explanation from the NCAA on why UT’s original appeal was denied for Plavsic, though he does hope to get an explanation after the appeal process is completely over.

    On Saturday, Tennessee Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer said he was “stunned” by the NCAA’s decision to deny Plavsic’s immediate eligibility waiver. He also stated that he, Barnes, and the university would “exhaust all options in advocating for his competitive opportunity,” which aligns with what Barnes said about another appeals process on Monday.

    “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.”

    Barnes had maintained all offseason that he was very optimistic the NCAA would rule in Plavsic’s favor, going so far as to say back over the summer,”I just don’t see how he can’t be allowed to play” in regards to the waiver process.

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    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.

    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 now weighs 240 pounds with Tennessee.

    If Plavsic doesn’t get to play this season, the Vols will go through the entire 2019-20 season with just 10 scholarship players who are eligible to play. Oregon guard transfer Victor Bailey Jr. is sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules and isn’t allowed to play until next season, leaving the Vols with four freshmen signees from their 2019 class to go along with six scholarship players returning from last year’s roster.

    Without Plavsic, the Vols’ frontcourt is thin. Junior John Fulkerson and redshirt sophomore Zach Kent figure to get the bulk of the minutes at the five, and freshman Olivier Nkamhoua will also play quite a bit in the post. Junior Yves Pons will likely see time as an undersized four, and freshman Drew Pember may have to play more than initially expected, too.