VAUGHT: Eloy Vargas, something to prove

No one has to tell Eloy Vargas that he might have something to prove at Kentucky this year. "I have to prove myself to everybody that is still talking about how I played two years ago (at Florida). I have to prove myself now that I am a good player and I deserve to be at Kentucky," said the 6-11 junior forward-center from the Dominican Republic.

Vargas was ranked as the nation's 10th best prospect by Rivals.com and No. 30 by Scout.com after averaging 21 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots per game at American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla. He signed with Florida, but averaged only 0.6 points and 0.7 rebounds per game as a freshman after missing the first 11 games due to off-season ankle surgery.

He transferred to Miami Dade Junior College and averaged 21.1 points and 14.1 rebounds per game last year while shooting 47 percent from the field and 77 percent at the foul line.

"I think I can be a big facto on the team. We all need each other. We have to get used to whatever we each can do. Everybody will not play his best every game, so everybody has to have the right tempo and mind," Vargas said.

"I think people who see me right now will know I got better last year because I play different now. I have been working on more things. Last year was good for me. It gave me confidence and I have all my confidence back now from high school. I guess I can do little things now I could not do before."

He prefers to play forward, but he says he can play the post as well as a perimeter position — something that could be important with Enes Kanter's ongoing eligibility issues with the NCAA.

"I do like forward, but I guess I might have to play the five (center) more without knowing how much Enes will play," Vargas said. "I am ready in any way. I can do both. Whatever coach (John) Calipari wants me to, I can do. You have to be able to do everything. That is why you are in the game."

Vargas never worried about not being "in the game" even though it took him all summer to complete his academic work at Miami Dade and he missed the three-game exhibition trip to Canada.

"I always knew I was going to make it. You have to think that way," Vargas said. "I worked hard all summer. I gained a lot of weight to get stronger."

Vargas turned down a chance to visit Kentucky when Billy Gillispie was coaching. However, he jumped at the chance to join Calipari's team.

"The program is really different from what I thought. I never came for a visit when Gillispie coached. But the fans are so crazy over you. I am still surprised when they call my name. I guess you get used to it, but it's so different from what I am used to," he said.

"I have not been out that much. I go to class and work out. I enjoy going working out because I know that's a big thing to help me prove myself and get better. But I just don't have much time to do anything except homework or maybe watch TV."

Vargas, like his teammates, dreams of one day playing in the NBA.

"Everybody is here because they can do something really good. Coach Cal brought us here to be players," Vargas said. "I think they are all good, and they are good guys, too.

"Playing in the NBA is my dream. It has been that way a long time. That is one reason I am here. Every kid that wants to play in the NBA wants to play for him (Calipari) because of the connections he got and the way he plays and pushes you. You come to a big program here and shoot for another level. That's what I want, too.

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