Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series. Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.
We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
With all five starters and their top reserve gone, the Vanderbilt Commodores will exemplify the phrase “rebuilding year” this season as their roster only boasts two upperclassmen.
Click here for The Sports Bank’s Vanderbilt football preview
Last Season: T-2nd, 12-6 in SEC, 25-11 overall
Predicted SEC Finish: 9th
Projected Depth Chart
C: Josh Henderson (So)
PF: Rod Odom (Jr)/Shelby Moats (So)/James Siakam (So)
SF: A.J. Astroth (Fr)/Sheldon Jeter (Fr)
SG: Dai-Jon Parker (So)/Kevin Bright (Fr)
PG: Kedren Johnson (So)/Kyle Fuller (Jr)
Gone: SF-Jeffery Taylor, C-Festus Ezeli, SG-John Jenkins, PG-Brad Tinsley, PF-Lance Goulbourne, C-Steve Tchiengang
How much does Vandy lose? They had three of the top 31 picks in the 2012 NBA Draft and a whopping 92% of their scoring is gone. Unless you are Kentucky and reload with elite prospects every year, that is a TON for any team to lose. In fact, the ten scholarship players on the Commodores have combined to start 11 Division One Games; Rod Odom has ten of those while Kyle Fuller has the other.
Odom is used to being more a temporary role player who has deferred to more talented players around him but now is forced into the leadership role and will also have to become much, much, much more assertive on the offensive end especially with his ability to stretch defenses with his three-point range. He will likely be joined in the starting line-up by the team’s only true big man, Josh Henderson. The 6-11 big man redshirted two years ago and then suffered a season ending stress fracture in his foot last season meaning he has only played 70 minutes in two years at Vandy.
Shelby Moats and James Skiakam barely sniffed the floor last season and provide the only depth up-front. Moats brings solid physicality to the floor but can also step out and knock down open shots. Skiakam relies more on his energy and hustle to be effective on the court. One thing is for sure, Vandy won’t have near the inside presence they have had the past couple of seasons with Festus Ezeli and Steve Tchiengang
Kedren Johnson is the team’s top returning scorer… and he averaged all of 3.1 points per game a year ago. He is certainly a better playmaker and slasher than Brad Tinsley was but is not much of a perimeter shooter. Seldom used Kyle Fuller figures to serve as the back-up point guard.
Kevin Stallings has huge holes to fill on the wing by replacing sharpshooter John Jenkins and the ultra-versatile Jeffery Taylor. Dai-Jon often looked like a freshman during his freshman year, never looking truly comfortable on the floor. He will have to take a major step forward this season if Vandy is going to be relevant in the SEC.
A trio of freshmen will battle for the other starting spot on the wing and playing time off the bench. A.J. Astroth is no Jenkins but should immediately become the team’s top three-point threat. Bright follows in Taylor’s footsteps as being a European born wing who relies on his slashing ability and athleticism. Sheldon Jeter was a late commitment who is still raw on the offensive end but could use his length as a defender and rebounder in spot minutes.
Kevin Stallings also picked up a commitment from Tulsa transfer guard Eric McClellan. He must sit out the 2012-13 season per NCAA transfer rules but is a combo guard who will help Vandy re-load for the following year.
This young Vanderbilt team will suffer it’s share of growing pains this season. As shown by their low ranking, expectations are low which will afford this team to build a new identity. Don’t expect the Commodores to be down for long though as their youth will serve as a benefit in a year or two.
Player to Watch: Kedren Johsnon
Since the ball will be in his hands more times than not, it will be imperative for Johnson to show quick maturation as a floor leader and really take over the maestro of the Vandy offense. With a challenging non-conference slate, his learning curve must be accelerated to prevent things from getting really ugly before SEC play arrives.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/16 at Oregon
11/22 vs. Davidson (Old Spice Classic)
11/23 vs. West Virginia/Marist (Old Spice Classic)
11/25 vs. Gonzaga, Clemson, Oklahoma, UTEP (Old Spice Classic)
12/1 vs. Villanova
12/6 at Xavier
12/21 vs. Middle Tennessee
12/29 vs. Butler
OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)