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Rick Barnes says playing this season is up to Santiago Vescovi

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An interesting new note from Barnes.

PANAM-2019-BASKETBALL-VEN-URU Photo credit should read LUKA GONZALES/AFP via Getty Images

First Rick Barnes said that it was highly unlikely that point guard Santiago Vescovi would play right away.

Then Lamonte Turner was lost for the season.

Now Rick Barnes says that the decision to play is totally up to Vescovi.

That’s the latest update on Thursday, just days before Vescovi is set to officially join the team. The four-star freshman point guard from Uruguay committed to Tennessee in November and was officially announced last week. He’s expected to be eligible immediately.

“It is up to him,” Barnes told reporters on Thursday ahead of Tennessee’s matchup with Wisconsin. “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.”

So the message this week seems quite a bit different than last week.

To be blunt, Tennessee needs this guy. They are left with freshman Josiah-Jordan James as the only true point guard option on the team, and even he may not be ready for what is about to be put on his plate. That’s not to say that Vescovi would be ready, but he could offer minutes and provide some much needed depth.

Jordan Bowden will have to shoulder some of the load, along with Davonte Gaines and Jalen Johnson. But that’s all Tennessee has right now ahead of SEC play.

Don’t expect a resolution on this situation ahead of Saturday’s game against Wisconsin, but we should have a better idea of what is going on ahead of the LSU matchup on January 4th.