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Jarred Vanderbilt a strong UK lean as Michael Porter Jr. looks unlikely

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With news that Washington is hiring the father of Michael Porter Jr., it looks like the Kentucky Wildcats will not land the top small forward in 2017.

But thankfully, there isn't much separation between Porter and what's become a loaded class for elite wings, many of whom are strongly considering Kentucky. Among them is Jarred Vanderbilt, who's been viewed as a slight UK lean for some time, but 'slight' may be an understatement.

Over at CBS Sports, Jon Rothstein reports that Vanderbilt is a 'strong' UK lean:

Dixon's third assistant -- Corey Barker -- comes from Louisiana Tech and has a more interesting connection. Barker's first cousin is Jarred Vanderbilt, a Top-15 player in the Class of 2017. Sources have told CBS Sports that Vanderbilt -- a 6-foot-8, 200 pound forward from Houston -- is a strong Kentucky lean, but there's no way that Barker's presence at TCU won't put the Horned Frogs in position to be in position.

Vanderbilt’s Victory Prep team was in Kentucky this past fall, making the trip from Texas to participate in the Marshall County Hoop Fest and Bluegrass Showcase in Lexington. The highlight of his four-game stretch in Kentucky was when he racked up  33 points, 23 boards and nine assists in a 121-101 loss to Word of God Academy (N.C.).

To this point, UK has expressed more interest in Vanderbilt than Porter, even though the latter is ranked higher in every major recruiting service. A big reason why is that Washington hiring Porter's dad was expected for awhile, which caused UK to not put too much effort into recruiting him knowing that the Huskies would likely get him.

But Vanderbilt isn't exactly a consolation prize. He's someone you can build a class around, and he could end up being the best play UK lands in 2017. He's ranked 11th overall by Scout.com and ESPN, while 247 Sports Composite has him at ninth overall.