Tennessee freshman Jordan McRae had his eligibility restored on Monday after being declared temporarily ineligible by the school as a result of his minor role in the ongoing NCAA investigation into the men’s basketball program.
“I just found out from the compliance department today that I’ve been cleared,’’ said McRae, a 6-foot-5 wing who has been allowed to practice while UT officials worked on reinstating his eligibility to play in games this season. “Put it out there in bold letters, please.
“Do you know how many times I was asked about that?’’
McRae was one of three recruits who attended a cookout at coach Bruce Pearl’s house while on an unofficial visit on Sept. 20, 2008.
McRae, who had made a verbal commitment to play for the Vols prior to the visit, didn’t know his presence at the off-campus activity was a violation — because he was a junior in high school — until he was already at the coach’s house.
“I wasn’t really too worried about it,’’ said McRae, who attended Liberty County High School near Savannah, Ga. “I knew it would take care of itself.’’
McRae is hoping the same will hold true as it relates to playing time this season.
Junior Cameron Tatum is projected to start at wing for the Vols.
Tatum, however, has missed the past two weeks of practice because of a bone bruise on his left knee.
“Jordan has taken advantage of the repetitions he has been getting,’’ Pearl said. “I’ve talked to Jordan about how important it is to handle success.’’
McRae was 6-of-12 shooting including 3 of 5 beyond the 3-point arc in Saturday’s scrimmage at Thompson-Boling Arena.
“Now, it’s how can Jordy move better on the perimeter for inside-out opportunities,’’ Pearl said. “And how can he do a better job of back-cutting.’’
McRae is one of the Vols’ highest fliers going to the rim in addition to being able to shoot the 3-point shot. Defensively, he has shown in practices he can block shots on the perimeter.
Junior Renaldo Woolridge is also competing exclusively on the wing. In addition to 3-point shooting range, Woolridge has brought a more physical presence and has been an effective rebounder.
Tatum said he expects to return to the court by the end of this week.
The Vols have six more practices, counting today, before they open their exhibition season against Brevard at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 3 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The regular-season opener is on Nov. 12 against Chattanooga at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Bone Returns: Senior Josh Bone returned to action in Saturday’s scrimmage after sitting out for a week with a pulled quad.
The 6-3 Bone, who can play shooting guard or on the wing, was back at practice again Monday, showing no ill-effects from the injury.