On Tuesday, Tennessee announced that the long wait for Uros Plavsic was finally over; the NCAA had finally given their final ruling on his eligibility status, and he’s been cleared to play immediately for the Vols starting with Wednesday’s match-up with Georgia.
Plavsic transferred to Tennessee from Arizona State back over the summer, but his initial request to be granted immediate eligibility was denied, and Tennessee’s first appeal to that decision was also 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,” Tennessee Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer said via a statement back in November when the news was announced. “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.”
Just a few days after that announcement, head coach Rick Barnes stated that Tennessee would be making one more appeal for the Serbian big man, and they hoped their last-ditch effort would prove fruitful.
On Tuesday, Tennessee finally found out after two-plus months of waiting to hear back from the NCAA that the seven-foot Plavsic will be able to play for UT this season after all.
Coming out of high school, Plavsic was a four-star prospect according to 247Sports. He was considered the No. 120 overall player by 247 and the No. 16 center in the 2018 class. He averaged 9.6 points and 7.5 rebounds for Hamilton Heights in Chattanooga 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.
At Arizona State, Plavsic redshirted and put on some much-needed weight. He now measures in at seven-foot, 240 pounds for the Vols, and he gives them an additional post player to go along with John Fulkerson and Olivier Nkamhoua.
Plavsic himself has been fairly open on social media about his love for Tennessee fans and his frustration with not being able to play, and the hashtag #FreeUros has been commonplace among Vol fans on social media. Tennessee’s players have also uttered the phrase multiple times in interviews or on camera during games.
To say Plavsic and his UT teammates were excited when they found out the news about Plavsic’s eligibility is an understatement.
Tennessee’s official basketball Twitter account posted a video of the team’s reaction to the news that Plavsic was finally ruled eligible, showing UT’s players mobbing Plavsic during practice on Tuesday afternoon.
Here’s the full video of Tennessee’s players celebrating Plavsic’s eligibility:
whole squad v excited pic.twitter.com/fS2UmbnOIp
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) January 14, 2020