By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky is one of the schools pursuing 6-9 junior Jarred Vanderbilt of Houston, who was in Indianapolis over the weekend with many of the nation’s best players for the Nike EYBL.
“He’s going to be really special at the next level,” Victory Prep (Texas) coach Rodney McCray, a former Louisville and NBA star, said of his high school star.
Vanderbilt played in four venues in Kentucky last season and the 6-8 Vanderbilt, a top 15 prospect in the 2017 recruiting class who has over 25 scholarship offers, and called it a “great pleasure” to play in Kentucky because of the way fans treated him.
Question: Do you think a lot of the fans are hoping you will play your college basketball at Kentucky?
Vanderbilt: “All the time they refer to it and coming to Big Blue. I don’t mind that. It is nice. It shows that they really want me here, and I like that. The fans are very passionate about basketball here.”
Question: What is there about coach John Calipari that you like?
Vanderbilt: “I just like how he gets the best out of each player. They work hard and he is just a great coach. They work hard and he takes them to the next level. He transitions their game and it seems like in the short amount of time they are there that kids get better and mature.”
Question: Does it fascinate you that he can bring in so many new players each year and yet continue to win big?
Vanderbilt: “Absolutely. Any time you can bring four or five new guys every year and still be at the top of the crop is just amazing.’
Question: What was it like playing with UK signee De’Aaron Fox last summer?
Vanderbilt: “He is a great player. He is a competitor and plays hard and just wants to win. He just has a great passion for the game and a great all-around player. Away from basketball, he is a down to earth dude. He is cool. He just has a great personality. He is sociable and a nice guy to be around.”
Question: Do you really have a 4.3 grade-point average with all the basketball activity you have?
Vanderbilt: “I make time for it. It is mandatory for me. I am a student-athlete, so academics always come first. That is just another goal that I want to be an engineer or getting a doctorate. I always take education seriously, even before basketball.”
Question: Is that because your mother is a teacher?
Vanderbilt: “That has something to do with it. She kind of instilled that in me at an early age and I just stuck with it. Before I would go outside to hoop when I was young, I had to make sure I got my homework done. If I had trips or games, she was on me to finish my work before I could do.”
Question: What about your track background?
Vanderbilt: “I ran the 100 (-meter dash) and 200. I stopped doing it because basketball is year round and I don’t really have time to do multiple sports. I could run pretty fast.”
Question: Do you play a few musical instruments?
Vanderbilt: “I used to play percussion. I played drums, bells, xylophone and all that. My middle school was a magnet school, so they taught us how to play instruments and do all that arts and stuff. I was in the marching band. Playing percussion in the band helped your coordination and all that stuff. All my activities I did when I was younger helped me and I utilize those skills now. I am glad I did do that at young age.”
Question: Do you realize that wanting to be an engineer, having over a 4.0 grade-point average and a musical background is not that normal profile for a top basketball recruit?
Vanderbilt: “I do have people seem surprised because not the average basketball player has those attributes. It is unique.”