Jarred Vanderbilt’s career at Kentucky comes to a close after playing in just 14 games. The Houston native announced on Twitter that he will remain in the NBA Draft.
BBN, Thank you for endless support and being patient with me through this decision. Kentucky will always be my second home!!! ??? pic.twitter.com/awGVHQ2MwJ
— Jarred Vanderbilt (@JVando) May 31, 2018
“Being a professional basketball player has always been a dream of mine,” Vanderbilt said in a statement from UK. “From the moment I first picked up a basketball when I was 4 years old, I knew it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. These past couple of weeks have been extremely difficult for me. With everything I went through this past season, I’ve had a lot to think about and what’s best for me and my future. Through it all, I’ve become a better man on and off the court.
“First off, I want to thank God for blessing me with this opportunity because without Him, none of this would be possible. I also want to thank all of the people in my life who have supported me throughout this entire process – from my family, to my teammates, to the coaches and UK staff, and most importantly the fans. The relationships I’ve built here will last a lifetime and I will cherish the memories I’ve made here forever.
“After going through the process, I was able to get some positive feedback that confirmed what I had hoped: that my time is now. It is going to be tough to leave this place, but I’ve decided to remain in the NBA Draft and pursue my dreams now.”
“Although I didn’t get to play a complete season like I initially intended, I’m still thankful for the opportunity I had to put a Kentucky uniform on and play for my dream school.
“I am very grateful I was able to play in front of the greatest fans in the world. I want to thank you for giving me support as I went through this process. You guys supported me throughout the year as I went through my injury and welcomed me with open arms when I got back on the court. This place is very special to me because of you all. Thank you for helping make Kentucky a second home for me. Big Blue Nation, I’ll forever bleed blue with you guys.”
During Vanderbilt’s 14 games at UK the Cats went 7-7 and he averaged 5.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Mysterious foot injuries kept Vanderbilt sidelined for UK’s fall and first 17 games. What was labeled an ankle injury kept Vanderbilt out of UK’s six postseason games (three in the SEC Tournament and three in the NCAA Tournament).
“Jarred had a difficult decision to make,” John Calipari said. “I know he has been pulled in two different directions. On one hand he wants to show our fans what he can do in a full season and compete for a championship. I know he feels like he got that taken away from him this year. On the other hand, he’s seen how quickly this can be taken away. I completely understand and support his decision to get healthy and pursue his dreams now. As I said before, we’ve only seen a small part of his game because of the adversity he faced this season, but he’s got the motor and skill set that will serve him well at the next level.”
Vanderbilt’s NBA Draft stock isn’t currently high because he skipped the NBA Draft Combine, but if the right team drafts Vanderbilt and is patient with his recovery there’s no reason he can’t have a successful professional career. UK’s frontcourt will feature P.J. Washington, Nick Richards and E.J. Montgomery, which leaves the door open for the Cats to bring in Stanford grad-transfer Reid Travis.
UK could be fine with just three frontcourt players, but expect the Cats to add one more. Vanderbilt’s UK career wasn’t what we were anticipating, but that’s life. Injuries stink and Vanderbilt seems like a great kid. Here’s to a speedy recovery and coming back better than ever in the NBA.