Final Fourcast: How Jarred Vanderbilt can help Kentucky basketball make a run in 2017-18

EDITOR’S NOTE: John Calipari is preparing to put his youngest team yet on the floor — and that is saying something — for the 2017-18 season. Among the 11 scholarship players on the Kentucky roster, eight are freshmen, three are sophomores and … that’s it.

There is enough talent for a deep postseason run, but also enough inexperience for Big Blue Nation to be concerned. So in our Final Fourcast series, we’re breaking down each of the Wildcats and what role they might play in pursuit of a fifth Final Four in nine seasons under Calipari. In this edition, it’s freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt.

The basics

Vanderbilt is a 6-foot-9, 213-pound small forward from Houston. He was one of six 5-star signees in Kentucky’s 2017 class. Vanderbilt, a McDonald’s All-American, was ranked the No. 12 overall prospect in the 2017 class and the No. 3 small forward, according to Vanderbilt will wear jersey No. 2 at Kentucky like Aaron Harrison, Ravi Moss, Bill Davis and others.

How he fits

After already previewing Kevin Knox and P.J. Washington, the positionless trend continues with Vanderbilt. Some of the questions around Knox’s recruitment, prior to his commitment to Kentucky, were if he’d want to come to Lexington when there were already signees — like Vanderbilt — with his skill set.

Now Calipari has them both.

Vanderbilt can play any position other than point guard, but he projects to slide behind Knox as the backup small forward. He’ll bring length and athleticism off the bench, two attributes almost every Kentucky contributor has.

What they’re saying

“I think Jarred, with P.J. Washington, is one of the best rebounders in the 2017 class. He’s versatile, which seems to be a theme with this entire Kentucky group. He’s fluid, athletic, can guard multiple positions, very good passer with a high IQ. The next step in his development is just continue to develop his jump shot.” — director of recruiting Evan Daniels

The contribution

Calipari could realistically sport a lineup with three, and maybe four players 6-foot-9 or taller. Vanderbilt would’ve been the top signee for most programs, but he was behind Hamidou Diallo and Kevin Knox in his own class.

There’s a logjam at the forward positions, and it’s unclear how Calipari will mix and match the lineup to get everyone on the floor. Vanderbilt isn’t likely to start, but his minutes might not take a hit from it. Vanderbilt could become Kentucky’s key sixth man.

The series so far …

Up next: forward Wenyen Gabriel (publishing Thursday)

The post Final Fourcast: How Jarred Vanderbilt can help Kentucky basketball make a run in 2017-18 appeared first on SEC Country.

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