ATLANTA, Ga. — Kentucky freshman Jarred Vanderbilt is still “day to day” with an ankle injury ahead of Kentucky’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kansas State on Thursday night.
Asked if he’ll play against Kansas State, Vanderbilt said he’s “hoping for the best.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari’s words shouldn’t reassure any Wildcats fans hoping to see Vanderbilt.
“It’s hard to play a guy that’s going to play 80, 90 percent in these kind of environments. It’s just hard. The game is played at a high level. When you talk Kansas State, they’re physical, they play hard, they’ll fly, and then if they don’t have it, they grind. You know, it’s hard walking into a game like that.
“My guess is no, but it would be nice to have him there. Like last game, we had foul trouble. You have that guy there that you could put in, would be nice.”
Vanderbilt was dressed out for Kentucky’s practice Wednesday afternoon at Philips Arena in Atlanta. But as his teammates went through warmups, Vanderbilt was getting stretched. He didn’t go through drills with the rest of Kentucky’s big men.
“Not necessarily full speed, but I’m trying to do what I can right now,” Vanderbilt said.
Vanderbilt missed Kentucky’s first 17 games with a foot injury, unrelated to the current ankle injury. He was Kentucky’s leading rebounder in the 14 games he did play. Vanderbilt missed Kentucky’s SEC Tournament championship run and he’s missed both NCAA Tournament games.
He was asked how much of an impact he could have if he does play.
“Probably not much,” Vanderbilt said. “I probably wouldn’t have too many minutes. The guys have been playing well in my absence. I think regardless we’re still gonna play good.”
Sophomore forward Sacha Killeya-Jones said Vanderbilt’s presences makes the Cats “that much more of a dangerous team.”
“His timetable is on him, but he’s been working really hard on his recovery and getting healthy,” Killeya-Jones said. “I think he definitely wants to play. I think everybody can tell that. I think everybody can tell based on how hard he went when he came back that he really wants to be out on the court. He loves the game, he loves this team, and he wants to help us win games.”
Kentucky and Kansas State tip off at 9:47 p.m. ET Thursday night in the Sweet 16.
Watch: Kentucky’s Jarred Vanderbilt updates injury status
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