It's a good thing Jarnell Stokes didn't win his appeal with the TSSAA.
It's a good thing he didn't listen to those advisers who thought it best he redshirt this first semester.
It's a good thing he'd had a second week of college basketball practice before the defending national champion came to town.
Because otherwise, there's no way Tennessee pulls off a 60-57 upset of No. 13 Connecticut.
Without Stokes' 16 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots, there's no way a Thompson-Boling crowd of 21,114 is going nuts at the final horn.
Saturday was, in so many ways, a good day for Tennessee basketball. The crowd, CBS in the house, the energy, the big win. The big freshman, making his first start.
"Oh, gosh,'' said junior guard Skylar McBee. "It's great having Jarnell.
"He's such a big presence in there.''
A week earlier, Stokes was setting his size 20 sneakers on the court for the first time as a collegian. And doing so against No. 2-ranked Kentucky and Anthony Davis, potentially the first pick in this summer's NBA draft.
Wednesday night at Georgia, Stokes was scoring in double figures in his second game.
Saturday, he got the start. And for 29 minutes he took it to the Huskies and another precocious freshman big man, Andre Drummond.
"It has definitely happened faster than I thought it would,'' said Stokes.
"First it was me stepping on the court against Kentucky and getting my first basket. Now it's me starting.
An excellent question.
At this rate, I wouldn't rule out a special NBA supplemental draft when the Vols' season ends in March.
By the time the playoffs start he could be throwing down on LeBron.
Then, of course, it's on to London in the summer
to help Team USA win Olympic gold.
"Stokes was terrific today,'' said UConn coach Jim Calhoun, one of the finalists in the recruiting war for the prospect who was supposed to be one of the top prizes in the Class of 2012 before the TSSAA accelerated his clock.
"He had some breakdowns defensively,'' said Martin, "which is expected because he's learning as we go.
"But I thought his energy, his toughness, his will to receive the ball and desire to score the ball really helped us get over the hump.''
Could he help this rebuilding program get over the hump?
The Vols on Saturday finally found a way to finish in a close game, a mission at which they have failed several times. The caliber of the opponent made it especially impressive.
Cameron Tatum delivered huge baskets. Skylar McBee nailed two crucial free throws. And Stokes continued to amaze.
He made tough shots in traffic and dropped in a few soft jumpers. He was a beast on the boards and generally outplayed Drummond, who also was initially slated for the Class of 2012 but signed with the Huskies in August.
Not bad for a guy who would be playing at Southwind High School in Memphis had the TSSAA not ruled him ineligible (because of transfer rules) and then denied his appeal.
"If I was playing my senior year,'' Stokes said, "I'd probably be a horrible defender, I'd still lack in workouts and I wouldn't be pushed in practice every day.
"I wouldn't be getting coached like I'm getting coached right now.''
The past eight days have put to bed the discussion that a quick transition to the college court was asking too much.
"Ask the people closest to me,'' said Stokes. "They told me I should redshirt this year because I'm not good enough right now.''
Oh, yes he is.