LEXINGTON, Ky. — Five-star freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt won’t play for Kentucky basketball in the season opener Friday night against Utah Valley, but coach John Calipari finally set a timeline for his return to practice.
Vanderbilt, who has been out since this summer with a left foot injury, has resumed conditioning and individual workouts and Calipari said Thursday he will likely begin practicing with the team again at the end of the month — so in three weeks, give or take a couple of days.
Kentucky announced on Sept. 30 that Vanderbilt, a 6-foot-9 McDonald’s All-American, was likely to have surgery on his foot, which he’d injured twice previously in high school, and be out three months. January was established then as the goal for his return.
But then that surgery never happened and Vanderbilt had several doctors visits — including a specialist who works with NBA players — that ultimately determined it wasn’t necessary to go under the knife. And now, if Vanderbilt really does resume practicing before December, he could be ready to play much sooner than expected.
The fifth-ranked Wildcats play seven games in November, including three in the next five days to open the 2017-18 season. Kentucky ‘s final four games in December, the 16th through the 31st, are against Virginia Tech, UCLA, Louisville and the SEC opener against Georgia.