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Can Eloy Vargas Make an Impact for the Kentucky Wildcats? Fan’s Take
Last season, Eloy Vargas didn't play much for the Wildcats. He averaged only 7.7 minutes per game. In the Cats' five NCAA tournament games, Vargas played a total of 16 minutes. He spent the summer working on his game, though. Vargas played with the Dominican National team (coached by Kentucky coach John Calipari) from June to August before getting cut. Hopefully, the hard work paid off.
The knock on Vargas is…well there is more than one. Here is a list:
- He lacks the court sense that made Josh "Jorts" Harrellson a force in the paint. Remember how Jorts always seemed to be in the right spot for a rebound or a put back? Yeah, Vargas hasn't shown that yet.
- Vargas has trouble holding onto the ball. This keeps him from finishing at the rim, hanging onto rebounds, and making passes to the guards.
- Defensively, Vargas gets out of position at times and gives up easy points.
The good news is that these things are fixable. Experience will help him overcome his lack of court sense and defensive lapses. A lot of big men have the same problem of holding the ball too low and allowing it to be stripped. Vargas may never be as good as Jorts was. However, he has the size (6'11", 244 lbs.) to match up with other big men. If Vargas can fill Jorts' shoes as the big man in the middle, it would open up more possibilities for the other players. Right now, the Cats don't have a true center. Vargas could be that guy.
Anthony Davis is being compared to Marcus Camby. However, Coach Cal has recognized that Davis lacks size and needs to bang harder in the post. He is going to be great but he might be better suited in the power forward position. He doesn't have a lot of experience in the middle and he is pretty lean. Davis will develop his post game better as a power forward, also.
With Vargas in the middle and Davis at power forward, Terrence Jones would move to small forward. He would immediately become a matchup nightmare with a size advantage at the position. Michael Kidd-Gilchrest could move to shooting guard and Doron Lamb or Marquis Teague could run the point. Vargas' improvement could benefit everyone.
Defensive big man
None of these things can happen if Vargas doesn't step it up. If Coach Cal can mold Vargas into a defensive banger in the paint, he might adapt and improve. It won't matter if he grabs ten boards a game. Davis and Jones will clean the glass. Vargas' main job would be to stay with and muscle up on opposing centers. Also, with MKG, Jones, and Davis on the floor, there is a good chance that Vargas could find himself wide open with some easy buckets while the opposing defense is focused on shutting down everyone else.
The bottom line is that Vargas can put in 10 minutes a game giving Davis a breather here and there or he can make a Jorts-like improvement. Which one will it be?
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