There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding one of the most important pieces to Kentucky’s basketball team this season, but things seem to be looking up.
Kentucky freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who comes in as a 5-star prospect and one of the top players in the Class of 2017, is still trying to get his bothersome left foot healed to join the team.
Originally, the school said Vanderbilt would likely have surgery and be out three months and return in January. However, Calipari later expressed some concern about whether he’d play at all this season. Vanderbilt has been in a protective boot for weeks.
On Thursday morning, Kentucky coach John Calipari was shocked to see the progress Vanderbilt has made.
“He was out of a boot yesterday! Not yesterday, the day before,” Calipari said. “He was out of a boot and I was like, ‘Stop practice.’ I just walked off the court and went over and said, ‘What are you doing?’ So now will be the process to say, ‘OK, where is he exactly and is he going to be able to play are we going to have to wait?’ But I guess they did the MRIs and all that stuff and everything looked good, so we’ll see.”
Calipari didn’t provide any specifics on when the Cats may see the return of the 6-foot-9, 214-pound Vanderbilt, whose skill set is considered crucial to Kentucky’s success this season.
At SEC Media Day, Calipari had this to say to ESPN.
“If he’s not 100 percent, he won’t play,” he said. “If he can’t get ready this year, then he won’t play this year.”
“‘Well coach, what if that costs you games?’ Well then it costs us games,” he said. “His health and his well-being goes before anything else, including our basketball team. I hope we get him back — for him. So he can play. But again, even if he doesn’t play this year, [I told him] this is hurting us more than it’s hurting you.”
Calipari also gave an update on freshman shooting guard Jemarl Baker, who’s been sidelined for weeks with a knee issue, and whether he’s back at practice.
“He’s not. It looks like he will have another scope Friday,” Calipari said. “That’s what appears to be the case, because they’re trying to figure out — the operation he did back in California before he got here, for some reason, it didn’t heal the way it should. So they’re going to probably take another look in there to see what it is.”