Last season, the Vanderbilt Commodores had a much better year than many expected them to after losing all of their starters to graduation and the NBA Draft. The highlight of their season came in a stunning victory over the Kentucky Wildcats in the SEC tournament that was the final nail in the coffin for the Wildcats’ NCAA tournament hopes – fitting after Vanderbilt was also the team that stole the SEC Championship from them in the previous year.
Unfortunately, all the positives that came from the end of last season have been wiped away this offseason. Kevin Stallings’s best player and Vanderbilt’s lead scorer from last year, Kendren Johnson, did not enroll at the school for the 2013 fall semester. Fellow starter Kevin Bright signed a pro contract in Germany and will not be returning to the school. Up and coming players have also left the program – talented Guard A.J. Astroth has transferred to Towson, and Sheldon Jeter has transferred to Pittsburgh.
All in all, things look bleak for Vanderbilt. With most of their talent gone, this season is not going to be pretty for the Commodores. However, Stallings is a master at developing average recruits into exceptional basketball players and teaching his athletes team basketball.
Rod Odom and Kyle Fuller will both return as seniors, so there is some hope for Vanderbilt. The younger, less experienced players will have to step up and produce because there isn’t time for them to develop.
Don’t expect the Commodores to win many games this season. They should finish 12th or 13th in the SEC, but don’t be surprised if Vanderbilt steals one from one of the SEC’s NCAA tournament bubble teams like the Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers.