By LARRY VAUGHT
Former University of Kentucky All-American Mike Pratt played professional basketball and also coached at that level. He has numerous NBA contacts today and through his job as analyst for the UK Basketball Radio Network he’s able to evaluate UK players not only in games, but also in practice.
Jarred Vanderbilt is one of three UK players who put his name into the NBA draft but did not hire an agent to leave a path where he could return to UK for a second season.
Because of injuries, he played in just 14 games last season but averaged 5.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game while shooting 42 percent from the field.
“Vanderbilt is set up physically to play in the NBA, but he has got to redo his whole shot,” Pratt said. “He’s fun to watch play and I love his effort. He can really rebound. He seeks the ball and rebounds in and out of his zone.
“The downside to him is how bad are his wheels. If I was a NBA team, I would not guarantee him money but would sign him with some clause about his wheels.”
Those wheels went bad at times both of Vanderbilt’s final two high school seasons. In the last three years, he has not played a full season because of various leg injuries.
“He has to fight that health issue. That takes a lot of luster off a guy who could come back to UK and maybe move himself into the first round (of the 2019 draft),” Pratt said. “Even with his shot because of his defense, rebounding and the way he shares the ball he can move into the first round if he shows he can play a full season. But the NBA plays a lot more games than you do in high school or college. He has got to show he can stay healthy.”