Freshman Jarred Vanderbilt made his University of Kentucky basketball debut in the Wildcats’ 18th game of the season on Tuesday night.
Vanderbilt, a 6-foot-9 forward from Houston, Texas, checked into UK’s game against South Carolina with 13:09 remaining in the first half.
Vanderbilt played 14 active minutes in his debut, showing flashes as a willing passer (three assists) and a presence on the boards (five rebounds). He finished with six points on 2-for-5 shooting from the field and 2-for-4 from the free-throw line. He also picked up two fouls, committed a pair of turnovers and blocked a shot.
Vanderbilt even spent a few minutes playing point guard after Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo ran into foul trouble for the short-handed Cats.
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Vanderbilt missed Kentucky’s first 17 games recovering from a foot injury suffered during the preseason.
Vanderbilt’s debut came at a critical juncture for the Wildcats, who left three players — guard Quade Green (back), forward Tai Wynyard (back) and guard Jemarl Baker (knee) — back home in Lexington on Tuesday because of injuries.
That left Kentucky with only seven scholarship players, not including Vanderbilt, in Columbia for Tuesday night’s game.
Baker, like Vanderbilt before Tuesday night, has not played yet this season as he recovers from knee surgery in November.
Vanderbilt, a top-20 national recruit coming out of high school, was an AAU teammate of former Wildcat De’Aaron Fox. The McDonald’s All-American injured his foot in September, and a timetable of a January return to action was mentioned at the time.
On Jan. 8, Coach John Calipari announced during his radio show that Vanderbilt had begun practicing with the team.