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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Jarred Vanderbilt makes debut vs South Carolina

Vanderbilt has finally made his UK debut.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky Media Day Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Jarred Vanderbilt has finally made his college debut.

It came Tuesday as the Kentucky Wildcats squared off with the South Carolina Gamecocks. He checked in at the 13:09 mark with UK trailing 19-12.

Vanderbilt actually had an active debut, missing a hook shot on his first possession, turning the ball over on his second try, forcing an offensive foul on the other end, then drew a foul on a layup attempt under the basket. He missed both free throws, then fouled a three-point shooter.

Needless to say, it was a hectic debut, but it was still great to see finally happen. He ended up having a pretty productive game, despite UK losing 76-68.

The freshman forward is still working his way back from a lower-leg injury suffered on the first day of fall practice. It was the latest of many setbacks for Vanderbilt, who dealt with foot and ankle issues throughout his high school career.

That’s why Vanderbilt and UK are making sure he’s 110-percent healthy before allowing him to play in collegiate games. He returned to practice on January 7th and has been warming up with the team prior to tip offs before each game since.

Despite not appearing in a game this season, Vanderbilt is regarded as the team’s most versatile player. He can handle the basketball, create his own shot, defend multiple positions, and was improving his jumper prior to his latest injury. He averaged 28.5 points, 13.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists as a senior at Houston’s Victory Prep Academy, and he shined at various high school all-star games.

Vanderbilt is expected to be on a minutes restriction, so it will be hard to gauge his true impact in this game, but it’s still great to finally see him playing in a college game.

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