LEXINGTON — A summer exhibition trip to China last summer was the first indication that center Josh Harrellson had a chance to be an improved player for Kentucky because of the way he scored and rebounded in the exhibition games.
Now another UK¿center will be trying to gain the same advantage from an overseas trip. Senior Eloy Vargas will travel with Sports Reach USA to the Far East to play nine games againsts a Lithuanian club team and a Brazilian all-star team between now and May 31.
“This will be a great opportunity for me and the other players going,” Vargas said in a release from UK. “I’m looking forward to working on my game while learning about and experiencing a different culture at the same time.”
Vargas played in all 38 games this past season when UK went to the Final Four, but he averaged just 1.5 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
Harrellson also played sparingly as a junior, but blossomed into a solid contributor for Kentucky and was the Southeastern Conference’s second-leading rebounder behind teammate Terrence Jones.
Vargas played his freshman season at Florida before transferring to Miami Dade Junior College. He was not on campus last summer and missed Kentuckyt’s preseason exhibition trip to Canada because he was completing work on his junior college degree. His father also died during UK’s season.
Vargas could get additional experience and work in August and September if he makes the Dominican Republic national team that will be coached by Kentucky¿coach John Calipari. Vargas is one of several collegiate players who will be trying out at Kentucky under Calipari to make the national team that will try to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.
Calipari is scheduled to be introduced Tuesday in the Dominican Republic as the team’s new coach and will have UK assistant Orlando Antigua, a Dominican, and Rod Strickland, a former NBA player who is also on Calipari’s staff, with him as part of the team’s coaching staff.