It sounds like the Kentucky Wildcats won’t have Jarred Vanderbilt this week when they open NCAA Tournament play.
The freshman forward is battling an ankle injury that kept him out of the SEC Tournament. While it wasn’t thought to be serious, even minor ankle sprains can be 1-2 week injuries.
It sounds like the latter is in play for Vanderbilt, at least based on John Calipari’s latest update. During his Monday teleconference, Calipari said he doesn’t expect Vanderbilt to play Thursday vs Davidson, and it also looks unlikely for a potential Saturday matchup with Arizona.
“My guess would be hard (to play) this weekend,” Calipari said. “He wants to play, but I just don’t see it right now, putting him in there and being comfortable about it.”
While Calipari wants his top rebounder and best defender, he’s not going to play a guy who isn’t healthy and could be a liability if limited.
“He knows if he’s not able to go full bore, I’m not playing him, for him or for us,” said Calipari. “Anyone that steps on that court that can’t bring it, these tournament games are life and death.”
Still, even having Vanderbilt at 90 percent would be huge against a team like the Arizona Wildcats and Deandre Ayton if the two teams play Saturday, but it sounds like UK will have to play both of their opening games without their talented forward.
I still think there’s a chance Vanderbilt plays Saturday if UK makes it past Davidson, but it’s clear we shouldn’t expect that to happen.