ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Kentucky could be without its energizer on Friday as the Wildcats open play against Georgia in the SEC Tournament. Freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt is doubtful, coach John Calipari said in a Thursday night press conference.
Vanderbilt is dealing with an ankle injury he suffered Tuesday in practice. The new injury isn’t related to prior injury issues with his left foot.
“I doubt tomorrow he will play,” Calipari said. “Hopefully at some point he tries to see what he can do. But I don’t think it’s tomorrow.”
We’re told Vanderbilt hobbled out of a 2-on-2 drill in practice Tuesday and did not return. He was taken for evaluation, per SEC Country sources.
Vanderbilt has averaged 7.9 rebounds per game in just 17 minutes. The Wildcats will have to compensate for his energy on the glass.
“It makes us a different kind of team,” Calipari said. “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 5 percent. We’ve gotta pick up 9 rebounds, so where are we gonna get those 9?
Vanderbilt and fellow freshman forward PJ Washington had been a spark plug duo off Kentucky’s bench. Calipari said he was concerned where Vanderbilt’s absence could leave Washington.
“And I mentioned that to the group,” Calipari said. “What they became was they played buddy basketball. They both knew where each other were and they created new opportunities for each other. We’re gonna have to see if that can be Wenyen (Gabriel).
Kentucky and Georgia play at 3:30 p.m. ET in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals. It’s not clear if Vanderbilt will play at any point in the SEC Tournament, or if he’ll even be ready for the NCAA Tournament next week.
“He’s gonna make that decision,” Calipari said. “The last time it took time to do it. It’s not gonna be me making it. It’ll be him and the doctors to make sure.”
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