NCAA declares Kentucky forward Zvonimir Ivišić eligible for No. 8 Wildcats following lengthy process
Kentucky freshman forward Zvonimir Ivišić says on social media that the NCAA has cleared him to play, ending a prolonged eligibility process that had frustrated Wildcats coach John Calipari along with the fan base.
The 7-foot-2 Croatian, considered one of the top international prospects, happily announced the decision Saturday on X, formerly known as Twitter, with a 10-second video that said “Hey, BBN, guess what? I’m free. See y’all tonight at the game and I thank y’all for the support. Go BBN!”
Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart also posted about Ivišić's eligibility on X and thanked university and athletic department staff along with college sport’s governing body for “working through this.”
Ivišić arrived on campus in October and has practiced and dressed for games with the No. 8 Wildcats as the NCAA examined his eligibility. Calipari has been frequently asked recently about updates on the player's status before and during Southeastern Conference play, which continued Saturday with Kentucky hosting Georgia.
Ivišić debuted after four minutes to big cheers in Rupp Arena and delivered a series of first-half highlights, starting with a no-look, behind-the-back pass to Antonio Reeves for a 3-pointer on his second stint. He followed with three 3s and another jumper that broke the game open for an eventual 54-35 halftime advantage as he tallied 11 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Kentucky fans around and outside Lexington had taken up Ivišić's eligibility as a cause as well, with some sporting blue T-shirts saying “Free Big Z!”. One group claimed to have raised money for a #FREEBIGZ billboard outside the NCAA’s Indianapolis headquarters.