Heralded incoming freshman Ramar Smith reportedly cleared to begin classes at UT
Bruce Pearl is waiting for a decision to be handed down by the NCAA on the status of incoming freshman Ramar Smith as students officially begin fall semester classes Wednesday at the University of Tennessee.
Pearl, entering year-two as the head coach of the Vols, has his hands full this week, monitoring every player on the basketball team during this crucial time for any college student.
No doubt the university has a system in place with counselors to work with the athletes regarding their first-year courses and such, making it relatively easy to get things set up for the fall semester for a normal student/athlete at the university.
The dilemma surrounding Smith is a complicated matter that might linger for a while. Even though the high school All-American point guard is cleared to become a University of Tennessee college student, there is still no guarantee he’ll play on the school’s basketball team this fall.
“We’re still waiting,” Pearl said on a sports radio show Tuesday morning. “When you are waiting for decisions less than 24 hours before class starts, obviously something needs to happen.
“The longer it goes on the worst you feel about it. I felt good about the situation last month, but obviously the longer it goes on the worst you feel about the situation.”
Students have until September 1 to register for classes for the fall semester. Smith’s eligibility would be a tremendous coup for Pearl and the 2006/2007 Tennessee basketball squad.
The UT basketball coaching staff is forced to just sit back and wait for a decision on their point guard of the future.
“When it comes to these things you have to just sit there and wait and allow the process to run its course,” said Pearl, obviously frustrated because of the constant delays.
Considering Pearl is the celebrated head coach and has a son of his own, Stephen Pearl, who plans to attend the university as a walk-on basketball player this year, the Vols head coach will throw himself right into the middle of the organized chaos of college registration this week.
There’s been a large degree of uncertainty surrounding Smith’s status for a while now, providing message board and talk radio fodder throughout the spring and summer.
The Vols lost point guard C.J. Watson to graduation from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, and are in dire need of a ball-handler to step in and fill the role left vacated by Watson.
Smith was kind of a gypsy on the high school circuit, playing for three different high school teams and a prep school before committing to play his college ball at Connecticut, only to then change his mind and sign with Pearl and the Vols.
The latest “trigger” that drew the ire of the NCAA concerning Smith’s eligibility it the fact he played briefly for a prep school in Connecticut before changing his mind and going back to his original high school, Detroit’s Martin Luther King High.
NCAA officials consider it a red flag if a player changes schools during the final year of high school.
But word out of the UT camp as late as Monday, was that Smith had cleared all the hurdles and will be eligible when the 2006/2007 team tips off later this fall. However, Pearl confirmed Tuesday that it’s still a wait-and-see situation concerning Smith’s eligibility for the upcoming season.
Pearl was hesitant to speak optimistically concerning Smith’s eligibility during the radio interview.
Smith, who at 6-foot-1 and over 200 pounds, could be a perfect fit for Pearl’s up-and-down method of basketball, and physical enough to contribute in the rugged Southeastern Conference as a freshman.
He would be the centerpiece to Pearl’s star-studded 2006 signing class and possibly an instant contributor.
However, the fact that Smith was admitted to attend UT as a student is only step-one. As of Tuesday, he had yet to enroll in fall-semester courses that officially begin on today.