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Jarred Vanderbilt is a game-changer

Jarred Vanderbilt is a game-changer for the Kentucky Wildcats.

In Kentucky’s last three wins, three of its best performances all season, Vanderbilt was a major factor inside for the Cats, which is why he earned his first SEC Freshman of the Week honor earlier today.

Jarred Vanderbilt named SEC Freshman of the Week

In those past three games, Vanderbilt has 33 points and 33 rebounds, an average of 11 and 11 in each of the wins. His best performance was in the victory over Missouri this past weekend when he grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds and blocked a career-high three shots in a career-high 27 minutes of play.

The emergence of Vanderbilt has meant less playing time for Nick Richards, and even less for Sacha Killeya-Jones. With all due respect to those two big men, I don’t know if they’ve combined for 15 rebounds in many games, if any, which is why Vanderbilt is seeing more opportunities, despite being a little undersized and out of his natural position when he plays inside.

It seems crazy after where Vanderbilt was not so long ago, but he is rebounding at an insane rate with numbers we’ve never seen at Kentucky. He gets a rebound every 2.1 minutes he is in the game, a ratio that cannot be matched in the program’s history. No Wildcat rebounded at a better rate than Vanderbilt, going all the way back to when they began recording the stats in the early 1960s. Of all the greats we’ve seen over the years, he is rebounding harder than all of them.

Here’s another crazy stat for you: Vanderbilt’s offensive rebounding percentage is 23.1. That means he rebounds 23.1 percent of his team’s missed shots. So of every five missed Kentucky field goal attempts, Vanderbilt grabs at least one of them to keep the possession alive. Wanna go a little further? It’s the highest offensive rebounding percentage recorded in the Sports Reference database, which begins with the 2009-10 season. Not just the highest at Kentucky; the highest in all of college basketball, over nine years.

Vanderbilt’s play has earned him many comparisons to NBA great Dennis Rodman, who also dominated the glass against bigger competition. John Calipari even said so, too. After Kentucky’s recent win over Alabama to spark the three-game streak, Calipari told reporters, “I’ll tell you who I’ll compare him to: Dennis Rodman. That’s who he is. How about this, be Dennis Rodman. He did all right. He can guard every position. He rebounds offensively, defensively. He can pass. He’s skilled. Made his free throws.”

What’s equally exciting about Vanderbilt’s rebounding prowess is his ability to then turn and start the fast break. Instead of looking to get the ball into a guard’s hands, Vanderbilt can take it himself as soon as his feet hit the floor, and he has proven he may be the team’s best passer in open space. It makes for a nasty combination of skills and it will lead to many easy baskets off missed shots, especially when UK’s halfcourt offense is slacking and they’re trying to push the tempo. Not many teams have that kind of weapon.

With all that said, it’s pretty easy to realize what an important addition Vanderbilt has been to Kentucky, and the team is getting better as he is getting more acquainted and caught up with the game. If he can continue to do exactly what he’s done over the last three games, Kentucky may have just what it needs to scare some people in March. The team will of course need its other pieces to do their part, but what Vanderbilt brings to the table is so unique and so valuable, and he’s only getting better by the game. He’s a game-changer and hopefully a difference-maker in what the Cats will do in a couple of weeks.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

33 Comments for Jarred Vanderbilt is a game-changer



  1. RexRox
    6:09 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

    In the same mold as MKG and Tyler Ulis. It’s all about the team! Easily my favorite player on this year’s squad.



    • unbridled
      11:03 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

      I’m still a Wenyen guy, but Vando is closing in. This could prove to be a special season. I like my team.



    • Miller45
      3:54 am February 27, 2018 Permalink

      same. JV reminds me of poythress quite a bit making plays under the rim sbbd shrugging off a screw up and respond with a good play



    • ClutchCargo
      9:22 am February 27, 2018 Permalink

      As far as skillset, I can see the Poythress comparison. But Poythress tended to coast a lot of the time, whereas JV is balls to the wall the whole time he’s out there.



  2. Parker_UKFanNC
    6:10 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

    He was well worth the wait. His adjusted stats for how many rebounds he would get per game is insane. If nick played with half the effort and energy Vando does he would be a beast.



    • timbo
      6:21 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

      I don’t think there is a need to compare him to a teammate (the case was just made for his uniqueness). I don’t think it’s fair to question effort either, though I understand where you’re coming from as a fan/viewer. I think they’re all getting better at the right time (JV being a big reason for that) and I just want everyone of us to be encouragers for them to each reach their full potential in the next few weeks!



    • ClutchCargo
      9:25 am February 27, 2018 Permalink

      Parker, I think you can chalk up a lot of the apparent lack of energy and effort of Richards to still being new to the game of basketball. He just doesn’t have a great feel for the game like JV does, and I think that can develop, but will take more time.



  3. Catcasey1
    6:20 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

    Love his heart and head seems to be one step ahead of everyone else



  4. blueblood4life
    6:25 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

    I sure hope we get him one more year ??



    • JusSayin
      6:37 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

      I do too but honestly as injury prone as he is… he shouldnt come back



    • Aar
      7:00 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

      I really think it depends upon how deeply this team plays into March. 5, hopefully 6, will be first round picks and should go to the NBA if they win the 1 game in April. Heck, BBN will lose 7-8 players to various pro leagues if these Cats win the April game. An Elite 8 loss will see 3-4 of their NBA careers start early. By the time it is all said and done, I suspect Vanderbilt will be the first to fourth Cat in the draft/mock draft list depending upon how much/well he plays and NBA teams’ needs.



  5. hillbilly cat
    7:21 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

    After the preseason women’s clinic, my wife said he had the biggest personality and was leader of the team. We finally see that coming to fruition. Love his hustle.



    • ClutchCargo
      9:27 am February 27, 2018 Permalink

      That’s what I saw at the father/son camp last June. Definitely the lead dog at that point, and as his confidence grows, so does the team’s.



  6. check
    7:44 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

    He’s my favorite, too. And I like a lot of players. I hope he returns for another season but whatever happens, happens.



  7. BigBlueNationDude
    8:43 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

    He will probably commit to Duke.



    • SouthernPride
      10:34 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

      Lol



    • 4everUKblue
      11:32 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

      BBNDudesboytoy February 26, 2018 at 10:46 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      I am breaking my silence. These folks need to know why you are so angry baby! We are having bedroom issues y’all.



  8. Luether
    8:53 pm February 26, 2018 Permalink

    Good post, Drew! Vanderbilt has taken Ky to another level and will only get better as his confidence continues to improve…

    • My sources tell me that was not sincere.



    • 4everUKblue
      6:38 am February 27, 2018 Permalink

      Still mad….banner down.



    • UK Big Board Update
      9:09 am February 27, 2018 Permalink

      He does that from time to time to cover his tracks.



    • UK Big Board Update
      9:15 am February 27, 2018 Permalink

      On Cal after the WVU game:
      Luether January 28, 2018 at 1:34 am | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Let’s not go overboard. A broken clock is right twice a day. A blind squirrel occasionally finds an acorn…

      Luether December 21, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      Like it or not, all UK basketball coaches are pretty much graded on how many championships they’ve won. Cal has only one and has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at least a couple of times…

      Luether January 11, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Ky winning a football SEC C’ship? Ha! Not in my lifetime and probably not in Edwards’ either…

      On Drew Barker transferring:

      Luether January 28, 2018 at 1:24 am | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      Should have stuck it out. No respect for quitters…

      On Brad Calipari’s tattoo:

      Luether December 12, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Just a punk move by Cal Jr…

      On Cal donating to charities:
      Luether July 1, 2016 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Gag me with a spoon…

      “UK Basketball Recruiting Rewind: Anthony Davis”
      Luether October 15, 2017 at 7:52 pm | Permalink | Log in to reply.
      $200 K is a lot of $$$…

      On UK not being contacted by the FBI:
      Luether October 6, 2017 at 10:44 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Naive…

      Luether November 11, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      Enjoy the moment. This is as good as it gets, Ky football fans…

      Luether November 11, 2017 at 12:41 am | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      Dook all the way…

      On Hami Diallo:
      Luether November 11, 2017 at 12:34 am | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      This is the same guy who disappeared in the Centre game – 3 for 9 from the field and 5 turnovers. Need consistency…

      Luether September 28, 2017 at 10:09 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Would have loved KAT more if he had lead us to a championship…

      Luether May 25, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Way past time for 9…

      On Derek Willis:
      Luether July 20, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Looking forward to seeing him in the “D” league…

      On Hami Diallo:
      Luether May 25, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Briscoe 2.0?

      Luether September 27, 2017 at 5:41 pm | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      Hope none of the investigation blows back on Cal or Ky assistants…

      Luether September 27, 2017 at 5:48 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Innocent until proven guilty…

      Luether September 26, 2017 at 7:17 pm | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      If the NCAA didn’t even wrist slap North Carolina, why should U of L get the death penalty?

      Luether May 28, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      This will be a typical Cal coached FT shooting team. For the Democrats in the audience, this means we’ll lose some games because of poor FT shooting…

      Luether September 20, 2017 at 10:07 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Nice try but Darius Miller will never be an NBA starter…

      Luether September 10, 2017 at 9:00 pm | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      Ky is and should be an underdog playing at SC…

      Luether September 26, 2017 at 7:30 pm | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      This Louisville story is also about greedy Democrat parents pimping out their son’s to the highest bidder…

      Luether September 26, 2017 at 7:17 pm | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      If the NCAA didn’t even wrist slap North Carolina, why should U of L get the death penalty?

      Luether May 15, 2017 at 9:30 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      It’s laughable and ignorant to compare Jarren Williams, a Rivals 3 star player, to Teddy Bridgewater…

      Luether November 26, 2016 at 11:23 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      “While Lamar Jackson was focused on giving Heisman poses almost every time he touched the ball”

      A bit of an exaggeration don’t you think Jackie Boy?

      Luether November 20, 2016 at 9:41 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Lamar Jackson is Superman…

      Luether December 12, 2016 at 7:40 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Lamar Jackson is Superman…

      Luether December 7, 2016 at 5:37 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Lamar Jackson is Superman…

      Luether January 12, 2017 at 2:05 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Lamar Jackson is Superman…

      Luether November 25, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Lamar Jackson is Superman…

      Luether September 12, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Lamar Jackson is Superman…

      Luether February 2, 2017 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      YGBK. Lamar Jackson is Superman…

      Luether
      Luether November 24, 2017 at 11:15 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Lamar Jackson is Superman…

      Luether September 17, 2017 at 10:22 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Am proud of Stephen Johnson, but Lamar Jackson is Superman…

      Luether December 15, 2016 at 1:08 am | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Lamar Jackson is Superman and the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner…



  9. wyatts1
    12:37 am February 27, 2018 Permalink

    Hands down the heart and soul of this year’s team!! I really feel like coach Cal seen all my posts on this website and woke up ??, JK Jk, but he is hands down the milk for or Cookie’s, the J in our PBJ etc etc



  10. MakersMike
    9:01 am February 27, 2018 Permalink

    I’m actually in a committed relationship with Jared’s game. Teetering on love.



  11. MikesWay
    9:19 am February 27, 2018 Permalink

    When he came back from injury and got it going on the defensive side and rebounding and let his offensive game come eventually, that was a very mature way to ease his way back in. Not sure many guys his age would be okay with basically not scoring (despite missing some bunnies) and still hustling that much. Selfless player for sure.



  12. BBNBRIAN
    1:54 pm February 27, 2018 Permalink

    As Vando goes, so does this team. At this point, in my opinion, Vanderbilt looks like the only NBA ready player on our team. I would love to see Vanderbilt back next year, but I believe he is as good as gone at this point.



  13. Alleykat16
    2:51 pm February 27, 2018 Permalink

    Since Vanderbilt has started playing more I’ve noticed Knox has started being more physical in his playing he has helped this team so much since coming off injury this team can go far into the ncaa tourney



  14. Big Meech
    4:28 pm February 27, 2018 Permalink

    While he was still hurt, I remember people commenting on him as being selfish and only was using uk to get to the nba, didn’t care about his team. Then when he actually into the game and showed that he’s all heart, then those comments went away. My point being is let’s support these kids in tough times, like Hami and nick have had instead of saying things we no nothing about. Our real fan support can help this team for a run in the tournament. Go cats



    • Alleykat16
      7:21 pm February 27, 2018 Permalink

      Big Meech you are so right instead of hanging up on these kids when things aren’t looking good let them know its ok things will get better show our true blue colors let them know we are behind them 100% GO BIG BLUE! C-A-T-S CATS CATS CATS



  15. AmazzzingLarry
    11:53 pm February 27, 2018 Permalink

    Vanderbilt is electric. Love his game. Just needs to hone his shooting range a little and he’ll be the compete package. If he does go pro after this season, he’ll be a steal in the second half of the first round.