Barnes says playing this season will be up to Vescovi

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Highly unlikely.

Those were the words Rick Barnes used to describe the likelihood of mid-season addition Santiago Vescovi playing this season.

“It’s hard enough to learn it when you’ve been around it a while,” Barnes said to reporters on Friday December 20th.

A lot has happened in the six days that followed that statement for Tennessee Basketball. The Vols beat Jacksonville State 75-53, then learned they’d lose starting point guard Lamonte Turner who’s made the decision to have season ending shoulder surgery.

Now without their starting point guard and with only eight scholarship players on roster Rick Barnes has changed his tune on the point guards potential playing status.

“It is funny, the last time we talked about him and him coming here, I made the comment that it was highly unlikely,” Barnes said.

Rick Barnes went on to clarify that it had always been Vescovi’s decision as to whether or not he play this season.

“We got the feel maybe he would, maybe he won’t,” Barnes said. “It is up to him. We said that even when we were recruiting him. You have a chance when you come in and get through everything. It is his call. It still will be his call. I think he is excited. The last time we talked, he took it as if he didn’t have that option to play. We said, ‘No no no, we said from day one it is your option and your call.’ If he comes in and feels like he can do it, I think he will do it.”

The decision not solely Vescovi’s to make. The Uruguay-native is still awaiting clearance from both the NCAA and SEC to play this season. The absolute earliest Tennessee could hear word on his eligibility would be January 3rd. The Vols start conference play on January 4th against LSU.

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