With news that Lonnie Walker is not visiting this weekend, we may now see why.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt is making a surprise visit to UK this weekend. Vanderbilt has since confirmed the news via Twitter:
It will be an official visit, which is significant news in a recruitment that seemed to have faded in recent months.
A 6-9 big man from Houston (TX), Vanderbilt is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 15 overall player in the class of 2017, while ESPN has him at No. 23 and Rivals.com at No. 21. At one point, UK was viewed as a significant favorite for Vanderbilt.
However, Vanderbilt suffered broken bone in his left foot that has kept him out of USA Basketball and July recruiting showcases. That led to UK souring a bit as they recruited other forwards in this class, and it’s still unclear how much interest they have.
Head coach John Calipari did not visit him in the opening days of the fall recruiting period, but assistant coach Kenny Payne did visit him on Sept. 13. Texas Christian, who hired Vanderbilt’s first cousin as an assistant coach this summer, is currently the favorite in this recruitment.
But that will change in a hurry if Calipari and UK make Vanderbilt a priority in 2017. He’s the perfect forward for Calipari’s Poisson-less approach, which thrives with versatile forwards like Vanderbilt who can do a little bit of everything.
If UK were to add Vanderbilt, he would play the 3 or 4 spot at UK, which may help explain why Walker, a college 2 or 3, is not visiting. UK is in great shape with several prospects who will play the 4 or 5 in college, so the 3 could end up being where Vanderbilt would get his most PT, which may also be true of Walker, hence why they may not want to visit on the same weekend.
Plus, if you’ve watched a healthy Vanderbilt play, you could see why UK would prioritize him over Walker. Before getting injured, Vanderbilt was ranked as a top-15 prospect in nearly every major ranking.