Comparing the Vanderbilt Commodores team of 2013 to the Vanderbilt Commodores team of 2014, there isn’t an overwhelming difference in terms of records. The 2013 team was 7-4 heading into the new year, while the 2014 team is 8-3. However, looking deeper into this Commodore team, there is a stark difference: youth.
Out of 14 players o the roster, only five are upperclassmen. Most notable of the group is senior forward James Siakam, who, since cutting his hair, is averaging 10 points and 5 rebounds.
Other than Siakam, the Commodores of 2014 are being carried by youth.
Damian Jones and Luke Kornet highlight the sophomore class in Nashville. Jones is considered one of the best players in the SEC and in the country, coming off a 2013-14 season in which he earned All-SEC honors. Jones’ performance is being noticed by scouts on the next level as Jones is currently expected to go in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft, according to draftexpress.com. Like Jones, Kornet is another big man who can play inside and out. Measuring 7 feet tall, Kornet is shooting 47% from behind the arch this season and is averaging 5 points more per game this season than last.
The Commodores’ freshman class may be the best Kevin Stallings has ever recruited in his 15 years as head coach at Vanderbilt. Featuring three 4* recruits and two 3* recruits, the Vanderbilt class of 2014 is what you would call stacked. Riley LaChance, Shelton Mitchell, and Matthew Fisher-Davis have become key components in Stalling’s offense. LaChance is second overall on the team in points per game at 12.5, and earned SEC Player of the Week honors after scoring 26 points in consecutive games. Mitchell has excelled as a distributor, racking up 4.8 assists a game with an assist to turnover ratio of just 2.
Vanderbilt has seen a dramatic jump in offensive production with the addition of this freshman class. A year ago, Vanderbilt ranked 310th in the country in points per game with 64.6. This year, Vanderbilt is ranked 69th in the country with 73.7.
With the young talent on the roster, Vanderbilt could pose a threat in the NCAA Tournament come next year and maybe to the SEC. Watch out for the young Commodores.
*Section Photo credit to Rich Schultz, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Vanderbilt