Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox was on The Ringer NBA Podcast with Kevin O’Connor and spoke about some of the upcoming draft prospects.
Fox, 20, is currently working out with guards Lonnie Walker (Miami) and Landry Shamet (Wichita State) as well as forward Alize Johnson (Missouri State). He was also asked about players from Kentucky, where he played before declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft.
He predicted guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be selected in the lottery. But his most interesting praise was for big man Jarred Vanderbilt, who has declared for the draft without hiring an agent. The 19-year-old played limited minutes due to injury while at Kentucky.
The Sacramento guard said he has played alongside Vanderbilt since he was in fourth grade. They also were on the same AAU team for EYBL (via The Ringer):
“For him, once he gets healthy … he’s the best rebounder I’ve ever seen … He can really handle the ball, he can play point guard if you really need him to. But he can go get the rebound and push the ball down the floor with anybody.”
Vanderbilt has previously said that he likes the idea of playing position-less basketball, which aligns with what Fox said about him.
But the comment about his rebounding is what really jumps off the page. He averaged 15.5 rebounds per game during his senior year of high school. The big man had a game at the Bluegrass Showcase with 33 points, 23 rebounds and 9 assists.
Vanderbilt outrebounded Missouri big man Jontay Porter, 15 to 7, when they faced off on February 24, 2018. He also outrebounded Porter (10 to 8) when they played each other earlier that month.
While he only averaged 7.9 rebounds per game for Kentucky, this was mostly due to a small sample size. He averaged 18.5 rebounds per 40 minutes and posted a very impressive total rebound percentage of 25.7 percent.
For comparison, potential No. 1 pick De’Andre Ayton had a total rebound percentage of 21.4 percent. Other big men in the draft with high marks in this regard include Mo Bamba (20.2 percent), Brandon McCoy (19.5 percent) and Robert Williams (18.9 percent).
He had fewer opportunities but Vanderbilt also had a higher total rebound percentage than past Kentucky star big men including Anthony Davis (19.0 percent), Karl-Anthony Towns (18.5 percent) and Nerlens Noel (17.4 percent) when they were in college. Joel Embiid (21.7 percent) also did not have a better rebound percentage than Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt also averaged 2.8 total blocks and steals per 40 minutes, too, which will certainly impress scouts.
Here is what one Eastern Conference executive has said about his draft prospects (via The Athletic):
“I like him because he does a lot of winning things. He can do a little bit of everything. He can defend, rebound and score. I like him because he doesn’t do a lot of turnovers and make mistakes. He’s an energy guy who plays hard. He’s young and only going to get better.”
If he plays in five-on-five scrimmages at the combine in Chicago, expect him to be the best rebounder on the floor. He will also presumably impress on the defensive side of the ball, too.
While he could still return to the NCAA next season, it’s possible a strong pre-draft process will lead to him being in the NBA next season.