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John Calipari gives a not-so-good injury update on Jarred Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt is likely out vs Georgia.

NCAA Basketball: IUPU - Ft. Wayne at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats will begin postseason play Friday when they face the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament.

However, UK may be without the services of freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt. The rebounding machine is battling an ankle injury that has him iffy to play at all in the SEC Tournament.

On Thursday, UK head coach John Calipari met with the media to preview Friday’s action, and he also gave an update on his talented forward.

Calipari confirmed it’s an ankle injury and said it’s unlikely Vanderbilt plays vs Georgia on Friday.

“I doubt seriously if Jarred will play. I don’t see it,” said Calipari. “He’s still limping, so I doubt tomorrow he will play. Hopefully at some point he tries to see what he can do, but I don’t think it’s tomorrow.”

Calipari also wasn’t ready to say for sure if Vanderbilt returns for the NCAA Tournament.

“He’s gotta make that decision, and last time it took time to do it, but it’s not going to be me making it. It’ll be him,” said Calipari of the decision to return being on Vanderbilt. “Him and the doctors to make sure he’d be OK.”

With Vanderbilt likely out, Calipari said it will mean more minutes for Sacha Killeya-Jones and Nick Richards, and even Wenyen Gabriel will get some run at the 5 spot.

“It gives Sacha and Nick a chance to play more. It gives us a chance to put Wenyen at the 5. That makes us a different kind of team. It’ll—what we have to do is make up for his energy. Someone’s gotta come in and it’s not one. Let’s all pick it up five percent. We’ve gotta pick up nine rebounds.

“So where are we going to get those nine? And those nine need to come from a couple—a couple from PJ (Washington), a couple from Wenyen, a couple from Kevin Knox, guards get a couple. Sacha, you and Nick together get a couple more than you’ve been getting. But he’s also active. We’ll miss him. It’ll be harder to play without him.”

In 14 games this season, Vanderbilt is averaging 5.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists and .84 blocks per game. His rebounding and defense are where he’s made a dramatic impact on UK’s season. He’s been arguably the best rebounder in college basketball, and he’s UK’s best defender as well.

Needless to say, losing him would be a huge blow for UK, especially against a Georgia team that features star forward and AP SEC Player of the Year Yante Maten. Vanderbilt would give UK someone that could keep Maten from having a big day against the Cats.

The first time UK played Georgia, Vanderbilt was out with a foot injury, and Maten went for 17 points and 12 boards.