UK coach John Calipari says Wildcat center Eloy Vargas wants to play in the NBA. At 6-foot-11, Vargas certainly has the size.
But does he have the talent?
If last season is any indication, Vargas still has a ways to go to reach his goal.
Vargas, once the No. 10 ranked prospect coming out of high school, struggled to find playing time last season for the Wildcats, enabling Josh Harrellson to improve his game and become a second-round pick of the Knicks.
Vargas played in 38 games last year with the Cats, but averaged just a shade more than a point per game.
Much like Brad Calipari likely will play for his father one day, Vargas will suit up for the Dominican national team when it takes the floor later this month in a series of pre-Olympic tournaments.
A native of Moca, D.R., Vargas will have an opportunity to check his game against some of the best players in his country, including NBA veterans Charlie Villanueva, Francisco Garcia and Al Horford, all of whom are in Lexington training under Calipari.
“I would love for him to be part of this team. It’s a chance for him to get extra work in, just like Darius Miller being part of that USA team,” Calipari said.
But Cal stops short of saying Vargas is a lock for the Dominicans.
“The issue for us is this goes until September 10. I’ve got to make sure he’s truly going to be part of what we’re doing, or at some point, I’m going to have to say, ‘You need to go back and be in school.’”
Calipari wants Vargas to be one of the first eight or nine Dominican players he uses.
“I’m not going to have him miss two weeks of school,” Calipari said.
Calipari says he’s challenged Vargas.
“You want to be a professional? Well, here they are. Go perform the way they do.”