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Jarred Vanderbilt will stay in NBA draft, thanks UK fans for support

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky men’s basketball freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt will forego his remaining eligibility at UK and remain in the 2018 NBA Draft.

The Wildcats’ leader in rebounding average in 2017-18 will join teammates Hamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Wenyen Gabriel and Kevin Knox in the draft. Earlier Wednesday, PJ Washington announced that he will be returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season while Gabriel indicated that he will remain in the draft.

“Being a professional basketball player has always been a dream of mine,” Vanderbilt said. “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.”

Using NCAA rules that allow players to “test the waters’ and go through the NBA Draft process, Vanderbilt received feedback from NBA teams but remained eligible because he didn’t hire an agent. Vanderbilt received an NBA Draft Combine invite but elected not to attend.

But after a strong – albeit shortened season – in which Vanderbilt showed his potential, athleticism and versatility, he elected Wednesday to remain in the draft.


“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.”

The NBA Draft will be held June 21 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.


“Jarred had a difficult decision to make,” UK head coach 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 was limited to 14 games in 2017-18 because of a left foot injury that sidelined him the first 17 games of the season and then a left leg injury that kept him out of the postseason. When Vanderbilt was on the floor, he was a problem for opposing teams.


Once cleared, he was thrown right into the mix at South Carolina and immediately showcased his ability to rebound and distribute the basketball. In addition to posting six points and five rebounds in 14 minutes, the 6-foot-9 forward took over “point forward” responsibilities in his first career game and dished out three assists.


Vanderbilt would go on to grab at least five rebounds in his first four games, including 11 key boards in the 17-point comeback victory at No. 7/7 West Virginia.


As Vanderbilt knocked off the rust and figured out his role with the team, his minutes went up. He flirted with a double-double (eight points, 10 rebounds) at Missouri and nearly had three straight double-doubles vs. Alabama (11 points, nine rebounds), at Arkansas (11 points, nine rebounds) and at home vs. Mizzou (11 points, career-high 15 boards). He was tabbed Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week after the first two of that three-game stretch.


Vanderbilt grabbed 10 or more rebounds in five of his last six games and led UK in rebounding average with 7.9 boards per game. He also averaged 5.9 points per game. As a senior at Victory Prep Academy, Vanderbilt averaged 28.5 points, 13.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists a game.



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  1. I was hoping that, of the three, that Vando was the one to return for sure. You know that both he and his dad have known for awhile that he wouldn’t be returning but decided to tease us along the way. Vando the Voodoo was a mystery ever since coming aboard. His fragility seemed to be a little of mental and physical, and I don’t think we will ever have the full story of when he was really ready to play. Here is hoping that we do get Reid, and I think he will more than compensate for Vando’s loss. The speeches these guys give on the way out the door are also very disingenuous, but we suffer thru them anyway. Good luck to the man.

  2. I wish Vando all the best and I think he did what is best for him and will prove to be best for UK at the end of the day.

  3. I can’t imagine what “positive feedback” Vanderbilt or Gabriel could have received that would make them think they will be drafted. My guess is both figured they will develop more in the G League like Dakari Johnson did rather than staying another year at UK where both would have got major minutes next year.
    The question now is how does Washington’s return affect Travis Reid’s transfer decision…that would have UK with 3 power forwards expecting starter’s minutes. Reid is probably the best of the 3 and will end up at Villanova now.

    1. I believe Reid will be a KY Wildcat and so do most of the media. We are better off not having to deal with the injury issue and will he play. There is more to Vandos injury than we know! No reason to be negative! I only want players that really want to be here. We will have a better team this year.

  4. The current state of the roster has 9 scholarship players, 3 sophomores and 6 freshmen.

    That is not enough to scrimmage 5 on 5, so Calipari needs at least 1 more, and I hope Reid is one of them, even if he is the only additional one.

    If Reid joins the team, that gives UK a senior who can play, something last year’s team, tagged by Calipari without end, the youngest ever, too young, even “never again this young” For this reason, I believe Reid is likely.

    But, if he is not, next year’s team will be no more experienced, no older, than last year’s “never again this young” team.

  5. Cal is just reloading, what’s new? All of them should have come back IMO. But it didn’t happen. We will see how they all do in the big league?

  6. Calipari will no longer be able to fall back on the defense of this system that the only 1 year players who move on are first round draft picks. No More Of That BS.

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