LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) – UK head basketball coach John Calipari begged for questions about his team after nearly 10 minutes of question and answer about the FBI investigation into college basketball and alleged bribery to recruits during Thursday’s Media Day. He did get a chance to talk about the 2017-18 version of the Wildcats, and some of that talk was about freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt.

The 6-foot-9-inch forward from Texas has been sidelined with a foot injury since late September. The initial prognosis was that Vanderbilt could return in January, but Calipari said Thursday the timetable could be moved up.

“They're going to reevaluate here in another week or so, then figure out where it goes," Calipari said. "It would be an unbelievable blessing for him or us if he were able to start coming back to play. But, you know, you let the doctors and the experts deal with that. They wanted to look at it a little bit more before they made a decision and let him feel it, see what he felt like."

Vanderbilt is a big man who can handle the ball and play most any position. He’s looking forward to getting back to action, whenever that may be.

“I feel comfortable playing one through five, wherever the team needs me," he said. "Whenever (I) get back, hopefully we can throw in different lineups and just be the versatile team that I know we can be."

“Jarred is a key to our team and he’s a great player. With any of these guys down it’s going to affect our rotation, affect our team,” said redshirt freshman Hamidou Diallo. “We need everybody to do what we want to do. Losing him, it really hurts, but we just can’t wait for him to get back.”

Freshman Kevin Knox said Vanderbilt could be the secret weapon the team needs when he’s ready to get back on the court. Knox says no other opponents will have seen much of him, other than Vanderbilt sitting on the sidelines.

“When he comes back, his ability to rebound and push, they’re going to be like ‘who is this kid? He wasn’t on film,’” Knox said.

Kentucky takes the floor Friday night for Big Blue Madness before exhibition games against Thomas More on Oct. 27 and Centre on Nov. 3. The season officially opens Nov. 10 when Kentucky hosts Utah Valley.

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