Waiting to hear back from the NCAA is nothing new for Vol fans. As it stands right now, Tennessee’s men’s basketball program is waiting to hear about their last-ditch appeal for immediate eligibility for Arizona State transfer Uros Plavsic after waiting months to hear on the initial appeal.
Now, they’re waiting to hear back about another player on their roster.
According to head coach Rick Barnes, Tennessee has yet to hear back from the NCAA regarding the eligibility of newly-signed point guard Santiago Vescovi. The four-star point guard from Uruguay officially joined UT’s roster over the weekend and practiced with the team for the first time this week. But as of right now, Barnes doesn’t know if Vescovi will be available for Tennessee’s SEC opener against LSU this Saturday.
“We haven’t (heard from the NCAA yet),” Barnes said on the SEC coaches teleconference on Thursday per 247Sports. “I don’t know if I can give you a day and time. They open back up I think today. How long it takes them to work through it, we don’t know.”
It’s worth noting that the NCAA has been closed the last few days because of the holidays, but the addition of Vescovi has been known for even longer, and UT has been preparing for it for weeks.
Vescovi has to wait on standard clearance from the SEC and NCAA before he can officially take the court in a game for Tennessee. He’s allowed to practice with the team in the meantime, but he can’t play until the NCAA clears him.
Originally, Barnes said it was “highly unlikely” Vescovi would play much if it all this season prior to his arrival. But with the reveal almost two weeks ago that starting point guard Lamonte Turner would be shutting it down for the season and undergoing shoulder surgery, Vescovi’s ability to play became much more important.
Now, Tennessee is just waiting to see if Vescovi will be available.
The four-star from the NBA Global Academy has impressed Barnes in his first week of practice at Tennessee, however.
“It’s been impressive,” Barnes said of Vescovi’s first week of practice. “He’s been here two days. He’s had a lot thrown at him, but he’s done as well as I think anybody could possibly do in this situation. Where you come in and you’re really learning what college basketball is about.
“But again, I’ve been impressed with him just by the way he’s handled everything.”
In Tennessee’s first game without Lamonte Turner at point guard, the Vols lost an ugly contest against Wisconsin at home. Tennessee fell 68-48 to the Badgers and only shot 34.8 percent as a team. Josiah-Jordan James handled most of the point guard duties, totaling five assists and three turnovers to go along with four points and three rebounds in 32 minutes.
The Vols will need some minutes from Vescovi in some fashion moving forward, but it remains to be seen when he’ll be cleared to actually play for Tennessee.