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Mark Tikhonenko wasn't sure what was happening when University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coaches approached him in the weight room Tuesday.

"I was like, 'What did I do?'" he said.

What followed was elation.

UTC received word Tuesday that the 6-foot-11 Sam Houston State transfer has received a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible for this season. Tikhonenko has two years of eligibility remaining.

"The way I was told was scary," Tikhonenko said in a video posted to the Mocs men's basketball Instagram account. "I didn't expect all the coaches to come up on me.

"But then they told me I got eligible and it was a heavy time."

Tikhonenko averaged 3.7 points and two rebounds last season for the Bearkats, shooting 46% from the field and an even 50% (28-for-56) from 3-point range. He reached double figures three times, with a season-high 15 points in 15 minutes against McNeese, when he hit five of six attempts from 3-point range.

His career started at North Texas, where he played in eight games before missing the rest of the season due to a foot injury.

Where he helps the Mocs is on the offensive end of the court, where his ability to knock down shots could open up the interior for versatile senior Stefan Kenic, South Alabama graduate transfer Josh Ayeni and promising redshirt freshmen Jaden Frazier and Prosper Obidiebube. The Mocs lost All-Southern Conference forwards Matt Ryan and Ramon Vila off last season's 20-13 team, with Ryan graduating and Vila forgoing his final year of eligibility to pursue a professional career in Spain.

"Mark is a highly skilled forward," UTC head coach Lamont Paris said at the time of Tikhonenko's signing. "He can really shoot it ... it's a proven commodity. His skill set lends well to what we like as another long guy who can make shots and spread the floor, and he'll add some to what he can.

"The fit is good from what we want to get out of him and for the opportunity for Mark to add to what he can do."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.

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