When Vanderbilt's ready, his chemistry with Washington will help

T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst
Cats Illustrated

You may think Jarred Vanderbilt and P.J. Washington are just getting used to one another since joining forces at Kentucky this summer.

Summer classes and pickup games are usually the first time a lot of UK freshmen meet, and almost always the first time the five-star players have played with one another.

The latter holds true for freshmen Vanderbilt and Washington, but the five-star duo is awfully familiar with one another.

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The two Texas natives have had more than a few Lone Star Showdowns. Vanderbilt calls Houston home and Washington spent the majority of his childhood living near Dallas.

The two weren't sleepers growing up as basketball players. They have always been ranked as some of the best basketball players for their age and that led to some anticipated match ups. Even as early as third grade.

"We're from the same state so I've been playing against him since the third grade," Vanderbilt said.

And who won those first games against each other?

"Oh man, that was awhile ago. I'm from Houston and he's from Dallas and I think we went to Dallas," Vanderbilt said. "We competed in the championship game of an AAU tournament. He got us when he was in Dallas but when we came back to Houston we got him. We're like 2-2 against each other, but it was great playing against him. To finally be on the same team is great."

Washington remembered the rivalry a bit differently.

"My team always won but he's going to lie and tell you his team won, but my team always won and it was great," Washington said. "It was great. We were always the two biggest kids and two best kids on our teams. It was pretty fun."

Third grade match-ups are rare for five-star freshmen, but high school AAU meetings are far more common.

Both agreed that on the Nike EYBL Circuit that Vanderbilt's Houston Hoops team was able to beat Washington's Team Penny.

"His team beat us by a few points," Washington said. "I feel like he had some great games against us and I had some great games against him. It's great to finally be on the same team for once."

Now both are playing together and have enjoyed summer match-ups, but to enjoy playing with one another in meaningful games will have to wait. Kentucky released troubling news on Saturday that Vanderbilt would be out until January.

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