Tyler Smith closer to being a Vol

Another obstacle in Tyler Smith's long-awaited introduction into the University of Tennessee basketball program has been overcome. Billy Smith has given his blessing for his son to join the Volunteers.

"We've talked it all out with everybody up on The Hill," Billy Smith told The Tennessean on Thursday. "I don't hold grudges. There's nothing there to keep Tyler from going to Tennessee if that's what he wants to do."

Tyler Smith, a 6-7, 220-pound Pulaski native, signed with Tennessee in November of 2004. When head coach Buzz Peterson was fired following the 2004-05 season and replaced by Bruce Pearl, however, things quickly came unraveled.

Billy Smith requested Tyler be released from his scholarship so he could sign with another school. When Pearl declined, Billy ripped the Vol coach in numerous media interviews.

Tyler subsequently failed to qualify for admission to UT, voiding his scholarship. He ultimately signed with Iowa following a year at Hargrave Military Academy, a prep school in Virginia. He was third-team All-Big Ten as a freshman last winter, averaging 14.9 points while leading the Hawkeyes in rebounds and steals.

Two factors led Tyler to request a release from Iowa following his standout freshman season: First, Billy has been battling lung cancer. Secondly, Iowa head coach Steve Alford has left to take the reins at New Mexico.

Shortly after getting a release from Iowa last month, Tyler announced that he hoped to enroll at Tennessee. Now he is asking the NCAA for hardship status, based on his father's poor health, so he will not have to sit out the 2007-08 season as a transfer.

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