Vanderbilt will test NBA waters


Kentucky freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt sports watches the Wildcat Marching Band as they play the nation anthem prior to the game against Alabama in the SEC tournament semifinals on Saturday, March 10, 2018, in St. Louis, Missouri. Kentucky defeated Alabama 86-63. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Kernel Sports Staff

Despite not playing a full season due to multiple injuries, UK freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt has decided to test the NBA waters and declare for June’s draft.

Vanderbilt will not hire an agent, though, giving him the option to return to UK for his sophomore season. The deadline for Vanderbilt, PJ Washington and Wenyen Gabriel to pull their names out of the draft pool is May 30, 10 days after the NBA Combine.

“This wasn’t an easy decision, but I want to use this process to get an evaluation from the NBA and see where I’m at,” Vanderbilt said in a press release. “I appreciate the support of the staff and the Big Blue Nation while I work through this.”

Vanderbilt only played 14 games the past season due to injuries, but he made a big impact in the games he did play in. Vanderbilt was the top rebounder for the Cats last season, averaging 7.9 rebounds per game.

Vanderbilt also averaged 5.9 points per game. Vanderbilt was a one-time SEC Player of the Week after the week where he posted his first double-double of the season against Missouri on Feb. 24.

Vanderbilt is an intriguing draft prospect since he played very few games during the season. Vanderbilt is listed on some mock draft boards as a last first round/early second round pick, even with missing all the time he missed.

“Jarred is in a unique situation because of the time he missed on the court this season,” UK head coach John Calipari said in the press release. “I truly believe we only saw a small part of Jarred’s game because he had to figure out how to play with us and we had to figure out how to play with him. What we did see was a player with an unbelievable motor who will grab every ball, get his teammates involved and fight like heck. We would certainly welcome Jarred back with open arms and I would love the opportunity to coach him for a full season, but I know he needs to go through this process and see where he’s at.”

If Vanderbilt does return, he would provide a big boost to UK’s frontcourt that’s only guaranteed to have EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards as of Friday afternoon.