KNOXVILLE - Two years after first arriving in the United States from Serbia, Uros Plavsic finally has found what he calls home.
In Tennessee. At Tennessee.
The status of the Volunteers' promising 7-foot-1 basketball center is still up in the air as he hopes for an NCAA waiver that would make him immediately eligible to play this season after transferring from Arizona State in May.
He prepped at Hamilton Heights in his first year in the country, quickly committing to Cleveland State University upon his arrival. He decommitted from there in late March of 2018 and flipped to the Sun Devils, where he redshirted. After last season, a conversation with former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga guard and Hamilton Heights head coach Zach Ferrell and his wife Rachel - Plavsic's host family in Chattanooga - helped him realize that he needed a fresh start, so he put his name in the portal and wound up in Knoxville.
"As soon as I got here, the people here, my coaches and teammates made me feel like I've been here for a long time," Plavsic told the Times Free Press at Tennessee's recent media day. "I feel like everything started with Coach Zach and Rachel, just living with them and their kids. They're like a second family."
Plavsic said he regularly receives FaceTime calls from the Ferrell family and added that he's "finally happy" playing basketball again.
"I've enjoyed playing basketball all my life, but now I feel like it's on a higher level," he said. "I wake up so happy to go to practice, where I'm getting better every day and making my teammates better.
"Everything here is about family."
Plavsic has had to get accustomed to both the American game and the college game in the span of two years. The increased physical play required an adjustment, but since arriving in the country he's put on 25 pounds of muscle and now carries himself at 240. He said the presence of guards Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden and Josiah James has helped him learn a lot at Tennessee, noting he receives text messages "all the time" from Turner about specific NBA players to watch and learn from.
"They're just trying to make me better," he said. "I'm getting better physically and I'm stronger, but at the same time I'm working on my basketball skills every day as well as my shot."
As far as goals, he's just trying to do whatever he can to help the Vols maintain their recent level of success - in games, he hopes, but as a practice player at least.
"I just want to help us get as far as we can," he said. "Get better every day, compete and stay together as we are every day. The season will take ups and downs, but I just want to go through the process and hope everybody stays healthy and we have a good season."
When asked if there was anything else he'd like to add, Plavsic offered two words: "Go, Vols."
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