Head coach Bruce Pearl, who imposed Crews' suspension late last month, said the 6-7, 230-pound sophomore from Hampton, Va., has "made a lot of progress" toward getting back in the coach's good graces.
"He's done the right things," Pearl added. "If he keeps doing them, he'll get back on this basketball team."
The head man said he does not have a timetable for reinstating Crews, who led the 2006-07 Vols in field-goal percentage (51.8), offensive rebounds (89) and blocked shots (32). The offensive rebound total was 22 ahead of runnerup Wayne Chism and the blocked shot total was 11 ahead of second-place Chism.
With Crews currently out of the picture, Pearl said the Vols' position-by-position breakdown looks like this:
Small forward: JaJuan Smith, Josh Tabb, Cameron Tatum, Steven Pearl, J.P. Prince
Post: Wayne Chism, Brian Williams and Ryan Childress
Pearl said the start of preseason practice "never gets old," calling it "as special a time of the year as there is."
Much of the enjoyment, the Vol coach said, is watching a group of parts mesh into a working unit. In that way, assembling a team is a lot like assembling a jigsaw puzzle.
"This is the time of the year when you try to take all those different pieces that you planned on and worked with individually, and you try to put them together," he said. "So, for me, the start of basketball season and the start of basketball practice is always the most exciting time ... that, and probably whatever takes place in March."
Tabb will be sidelined at least 10 days due to a broken bone near his eye. He suffered the injury when his face collided with Prince's elbow during some Tuesday scrimmaging.
With the exception of Crews and Tabb, all of the Vols are present and going full bore as the Vols prepare for the 2007-08 season.
"The energy level has been very good, as you would expect," Pearl said. "It's that way every place else around the country because they're fresh and they're furious."