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Takeaways from Meet the Wildcats Preview of Jarred Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt is the x-factor for UK, so long as he stays healthy. Good news: That scary ankle injury was nothing serious.

High School Basketball: McDonald's All-American Portraits Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

24/7 Sports has five-star freshman Jarred Vanderbilt listed at 213 lbs. If you have seen pictures or videos of him lately, it’s apparent that the McDonald’s All American has put on some major weight. And I’m not talking about the kind you get eating Twinkies and pizza rolls.

Vanderbilt has been hitting the weight-room hard this offseason in a relentless fashion. But this shouldn’t be surprising given his “dog” mentality. He explains this state of mind in the latest Meet the Wildcats from CoachCal.com:

“On the court, (I’m) just a dog, a leader,” Vanderbilt said. “Just trying to do everything for my team to win. That’s the main thing with me, just winning. No matter how you do it, we just want to win. Who gets the credit doesn’t really matter; just want to win.

These are the words one loves to hear coming from a freshman. Especially in the case of Vanderbilt due to the fact that there is going to be a battle for playing time at his position. Along with Kevin Knox, PJ Washington, and Wenyen Gabriel, Vanderbilt can play either the small forward or power forward position.

His strength and athleticism was apparent in the Nike Hoops Summit where he dominated scoring 19 points, a game high, and grabbing seven rebounds.

However, Vanderbilt would later suffer a mysterious lower-leg injury while playing at the Jordan Brand Classic. It was never announced what the actual injury was, but Vanderbilt revealed it was just an ankle injury.

“But it wasn’t really that bad of an injury. It was all pretty good. We were just playing it cautious. I didn’t have any other events left, so I just got rested, tried to get 100 percent and just prepared for the next level.”

Vanderbilt added that he’s back to 100 percent health and “good to go” for offseason workouts and practice. That’s great news, as Vanderbilt gives John Calipari the option to play an extremely long, fast and athletic team.

Imagine the combination of Knox at the three, Vanderbilt at the four, and either Washington or Gabriel at the five? That’s a Golden State Warriors type of line-up: big men that can get up and down the floor and stretch the defense out the perimeter.

Vanderbilt’s ability to knock down outside jumpers will be the determining factor for his playing time. He has been working on it during the offseason and it’s looking pretty good so far:

No matter what, Calipari has in Vanderbilt a worker and a team first guy.

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