By LARRY VAUGHT
One of the nation’s top juniors is 6-9 Jarred Vanderbilt of Houston, who is only 16 years old and plays for Victory Prep and coach Rodney McCray, a former Louisville standpoint.
“He’s going to be really special at the next level,” Victory Prep (Texas) coach Rodney McCray, a former Louisville and NBA star, said.
Kentucky is one of the schools pursuing Vanderbilt. He’s already played at Marshall County and McCracken County this year and will be back in the Bluegrass Feb. 6-7 to play games at Pulaski County in the Thoroughbred Classic that will also feature another of the nation’s top juniors, 7-foot DeAndre Ayton of Arizona.
Here’s some insights Vanderbilt shared during the McCracken County Mustang Madness.
Question: What about the basketball bloodline in your family?
Vanderbilt: “Everybody in my family plays. I have six siblings and they all played basketball. My parents, uncles, everybody. It runs in the family. My mother played at Xavier and she was a forward. She was inside. She had couple of post moves, that’s about it.”
Question: What is it like playing for coach Rodney McCray, a former star at Louisville and in the NBA?
Vanderbilt: “He is great. He has played at high levels. He just knows the game very well. He just puts you in the best positions to succeed. Having him already been there, he just knows the ropes. He is a good educator and speaker. He gives us a lot of knowledge about the game to help our IQ.”
Question: Does he just instill winning because that is what he did best?
Vanderbilt: “He is a winner. He didn’t care how many points he had or how many minutes, he just wanted to win. He just had that dog in him. It just trickles down to us and we try to take that from him.”
Question: What made you want to stay in Houston and play with Houston guys rather than go to another school somewhere that has players from across the country to go with you?
Vanderbilt: “We are actually kind of like a young program. This is our third year on the circuit. We are growing. Other teams have national talents but we stuck with our Houston talent. We play the same teams. I just didn’t feel the need for me to travel. It would be different if we didn’t have the same schedule or not going to the same tournaments, but I am playing the same guys and have the same opportunity where I am at so there is no need to travel.”
Question: Are there things in your game you want to dramatically improve?
Vanderbilt: “There is always room for improvement. To the next level, ballhandling, shooting you have to work on it. Right now it is good but at the next level you have to get better.”