From Monday’s Double Coverage: Courier Journal’s Fletcher Page and Jeff Greer take a close look at UK’s NCAA bracket and discuss what match-ups are looming for the Wildcats.
Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal
BOISE, Idaho?? Has Jarred Vanderbilt played his final game for Kentucky basketball??
The freshman forward said his sprained left ankle is “70 percent,” and will likely keep him sidelined until at least the Sweet 16 next week.?
The Wildcats must win Thursday versus?Davidson and Saturday potentially against Arizona to give Vanderbilt a chance to return.?
“I’m trying to get it better,” he said prior to Kentucky’s open practice at Taco Bell Arena. “I want to play, but I’m not 100 percent and it’s probably unlikely.?
“I think I’m like 70 (percent) or something, but after a couple weekends it could work towards getting back to 100. Hoping the guys win. I want to play. Hopefully we can get past this weekend.”?
Kentucky coach John Calipari said Vanderbilt will not be able to compete at the necessary level required?to be successufl in an NCAA Tournament game if he’s not near?100 percent.?
“I don’t think that it’s fair to him or us if he’s not able to go in there and compete at a high level,” Calipari said.?
“Right now I just don’t think it’s in his interests or ours that unless he’s a hundred percent, I would take 97 percent, 95, but you can’t take 80. You can’t. The games are played at too high a level.”
??UK?could be ‘playing each game for’ Jarred Vanderbilt and not with him
There’s also the potential Vanderbilt could turn pro after this season. Previously considered a first-round draft pick by multiple mock drafts, Vanderbilt is currently rated the No. 60 2018 prospect by ESPN.??
“Right now I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I’m just focused on this team and getting through this season.”
Vanderbilt did not play in the Southeastern Conference Tournament after spraining his ankle last week in practice. He said “a freak accident” caused the injury but declined to discuss the specifics.?
“It’s frustrating and difficult for me as a competitor because I want to be out there playing,” Vanderbilt said.?
He?averaged 5.9 points and 7.9 rebounds in 14 games since returning from a foot injury in January and scored 11 points in three of Kentucky’s four victories to close out the month of February.
It was another in a long line of foot and ankle injuries.?
In late September, Vanderbilt fell to the ground with a left?foot injury during a drill in practice that cost him more than three months of practice and games. In April, he hurt his right ankle/foot in the Jordan Brand Classic All-Star game that delayed his ability to play pick-up games in June?when he arrived on campus.?
“I really want to be out there supporting my guys, helping my guys win,” he said. “It is what it is. It’s part of the game.”?
Fletcher Page: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @FletcherPage. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/fletcherp