Is Jarred Vanderbilt about to return for the Kentucky Wildcats?
On Monday, John Calipari sent out an interesting tweet that seemed to have some optimism about Vanderbilt:
Forget the seeds. Everybody is 0-0 that’s moving forward and it's not about seeding; it's about who is playing the best. We are in a tough region. I'm looking forward to seeing @JVando today to see how far he's come along.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 19, 2018
While it may seem like nothing, Calipari going out of his way to specifically mention Vanderbilt seems like a good thing.
To this point, Calipari has been relatively mum on Vanderbilt’s status outside of saying he needs to be around 95-percent healthy to play, so seeing him mention the freshman forward on his own seems like a hint at good news coming.
There had been doubt as to if Vanderbilt would be recovered enough to play in the Sweet 16 after missing UK’s first two games in the NCAA Tournament.
Until his most recent injury to his ankle, Vanderbilt had become the spark plug off of the bench for the Cats. In the 14 games he played for Kentucky, Vanderbilt led the team with 7.9 rebounds per game in only 17 minutes per game. He also added six points on 43% shooting from the floor. Vanderbilt’s energy and effort helped to pull Kentucky out of a tailspin late in the year to allow Big Blue to find much needed momentum heading into the postseason.
While UK will be favored to win the South Region this week, they could still really use Vanderbilt, especially against Kansas State in the Sweet 16. They’re also set to a return an injured big man in Dean Wade, who averages almost 17 points per game.
Having Vanderbilt to help defend Wade could be the difference in who wins Thursday’s matchup.