The storyline for much of the offseason and early regular season for the Kentucky Wildcats was frontcourt depth.
The roster is full of 7-footers, but due to injury and waiting for eligibility clearance, Kentucky was without Aaron Bradshaw, Ugonna Onyenso, and Zvonimir Ivisic to open the season.
Thankfully, Bradshaw and Onyenso are both back and making a big impact.
Now, we have a ruling from the NCAA on Big Z.
After what felt like a never-ending saga, Ivisic has been CLEARED by the NCAA. He’s now eligible to play in games for the Wildcats, beginning with their matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs.
Ivisic confirmed the news Saturday on Twitter while thanking fans for their support.
UK AD Mitch Barnhart also confirmed the news while thanking the NCAA for making the right decision.
We’re happy to share that @zvonimir_ivisic is eligible to play.— Mitch Barnhart (@UKMitchBarnhart) January 20, 2024
Want to thank everyone at the @universityofky, our @UKAthletics staff and the @NCAA for working through this. Exciting time for @UKCoachCalipari, @KentuckyMBB and #BBN. Go Big Blue! pic.twitter.com/q7sJn0Mb7D
The Big Z saga has been a wild one since his commitment over the summer.
It started with the admissions issue, which led to the staff having to re-recruit the Croatian big man before he was ultimately cleared to enroll at UK.
However, Z still needed clearance to play in games by the NCAA, which took several more months before a final decision was made.
Obviously, with a stout schedule and hopes of making a deep run in March that even goes into April, depth is vastly important when it comes to the roster. Ivisic would add just that behind the solid play of Tre Mitchell to this point in the season and the recent emergence of both Bradshaw and Onyenso.
We’ve already seen Kentucky’s depth affected by the loss of Adou Thiero, who has been out for over a month due to a back issue, and it’s unclear when he will return to game action.
What will Z bring to the table? That is still yet to be seen, as the moment he takes the court will be the first live look most in the fanbase have seen.
With his length and offensive prowess, it seems he should fit right in with the squad. Add in some shot-blocking ability, and it will only bolster the strength of this team of getting out in transition.