Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 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.
When I picked my five teams expected to make a major jump next season, the Vanderbilt Commodores were originally on my list. However, the loss of three key players this off-season likely means another year of struggle for Vandy.
Last Season: 10th, 8-10 in SEC, 16-17 overall
Predicted SEC Finish: 10th
Projected Depth Chart
C: Josh Henderson (Jr)/Luke Kornet (Fr)
PF: Rod Odom (Sr)/James Siakam (Jr)/Damian Jones (Fr)
G/F: Dai-Jon Parker (Jr)/Shelby Moats (Jr)
G: Kyle Fuller (Sr)
PG: Eric McClellan (So)
Gone: PG-Kedren Johnson (suspended for one year), SG-Kevin Bright (turned pro overseas) SF-Sheldon Jeter (transfer), G/F-A.J. Astroth (transfer-Towson)
Things looked bright until late July when within a 24-hour period it was announced that leading scorer Kedren Johnson was suspended for the entire season while sharpshooter Kevin Bright was returning home to Germany to sign a professional contract and be closer to his ill mother. Add in the transfer of freshman forward Sheldon Jeter and the up and coming Commodores’ immediate future doesn’t look so bright.
The loss of the three wing players leaves Vandy shorthanded in the backcourt. Luckily, Tulsa transfer Eric McClellan becomes eligible which provides a huge spark. The combo guard adds versatility to the backcourt which also includes returning starters Kyle Fuller and Dai-Jon Parker. The trio will collectively try to replace the offensive abilities of Johnson and Bright, and look for Parker to specifically take on more of a scoring load this season.
While guard depth suddenly becomes a major concern, the ‘Dores return everyone from their frontcourt and should use a more conventional looking lineup this year opposed to the smaller lineup Stallings often went with a year ago. Rod Odom is the anchor of the group upfront. He is a face-up four and the team’s top returning three-point shooter.
Vanderbilt needs big man Josh Henderson to take on a bigger role inside in hopes of having some sort of low post scoring threat which the team lacked last year. Shelby Moats was a key reserve a year ago and provides some athleticism and versatility at the forward position. Undersized four man James Siakam will compete for minutes off the bench with freshmen Damian Jones and Luke Kornet.
With only nine scholarship players heading into the season, depth is going to be a major concern for Stallings. One injury, especially in the backcourt, could cripple their season. There is enough talent in the top six to keep the team relatively competitive but the losses of Johnson and Bright will be too much for the Vanderbilt Commodores to overcome.
Player to Watch: Eric McClellan
With Johnson no longer in the equation, the focus of the ‘Dores backcourt now switches to McClellan. He was expected to be Johnson’s backcourt sidekick but instead should shoulder the primary ball-handling responsibilities since Fuller is the only real other guy on the roster capable of running the point. There will obviously be stiffer competition on a nightly basis versus what McClelland saw at Tulsa so Vandy needs him to accept the challenge if they have any hope of finishing in the middle of the pack.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/22 vs. Providence (Paradise Jam)
1123 or 24 vs. La Salle/Morgan State (Paradise Jam)
11/25 vs. Maryland/Marist/Northern Iowa/Loyola Marymount (Paradise Jam)
12/2 at Texas (Big 12/SEC Challenge)
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
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 to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks