Jarred Vanderbilt injury update: John Calipari says Kentucky freshman not mentally ready

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Kentucky freshman Jarred Vanderbilt has spent this season on the bench. USATSI

Kentucky freshman Jarred Vanderbilt -- one of six five-star recruits in Kentucky's second-ranked 2017 recruiting class -- has yet to play a minute for the Wildcats this season after suffering a left foot injury during a practice in September.

Kentucky initially announced Vanderbilt would miss at least three months after undergoing surgery, however Vanderbilt opted to not take a surgical route. His recovery has been slow and steady, although he's still not practicing with the team yet. Coach John Calipari has made it clear they won't rush him back, and they've left the door open for him to potentially miss the remainder of the season.

"Until he's in a great frame to be able to come in there and physically ready to go with our guys, it's hard to tell," UK coach John Calipari said of Vanderbilt via the Courier-Journal in December. "I'm just saying this to everybody that's listening: I will not push this kid. If he's able to do this and it's good for him and us, that's great. I'm not trying to win another game by playing a kid before he should play and then all of the sudden you hurt him more than you help him. I'm not going to do that."

Vanderbilt's been spotted on multiple occassions in pregame warmups shooting, however that doesn't necessarily indicate he's nearing a return.

According to a report from SEC Country at the end of December, Vanderbilt is participating in drillwork but still hasn't done any 5-on-5 or full-blown practice work. The latest on his status -- along with that of fellow freshman Jemarl Baker -- is that they are making progress.

On Jan. 9, Kentucky coach John Calipari updated Vanderbilt's status by saying he's not yet ready and, again, he's not in any rush to get back.

"He's just not mentally ready to go on the court," Calipari said. "I basically told him, 'Listen, when you go in, you're going to play seven or eight minutes a half, limited minutes for a while. I'm going to put you out there, let you run around, let you feel good about yourself and you're out.' But he's going to have to make that decision. It's more mental. I mean, he can play. He couldn't play 40 minutes or anything like that, but he can play."

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