The Vanderbilt Commodores have had some of the worst roster luck in all of college basketball over the past several seasons. That run of awful fortune has continued with an announcement a few days ago from head coach Kevin Stallings. Guards Kedren Johnson and Dai-Jon Parker will be transferring, and their transfers are occurring in part because they were not given permission to rejoin the program.
What Does This Mean For Vanderbilt?
The use of a dramatic answer might seem to be overkill, but it really is a disaster for Vanderbilt, despite the meager statistical averages of the two players. Johnson averaged eight points over two seasons, but he had averaged 13.5 points in the 2012-13 season and had the makings of a breakout player for the Commodores. Not only did he lead the team in points per game that year, he also led them in minutes played (31.7), assists per game (3.6), steals per game (1.0) and three’s per game (2.8)
Johnson was suspended for all of last season for violating university policy. Having him back in the lineup with fresh legs after a year off would have been a huge boost for the Vanderbilt program on the court. Johnson is the player who will really be missed here.
However, it’s not as though Parker’s absence won’t matter. Johnson matters more but Parker’s absence counts in a way that will further hamstring Vanderbilt. Parker averaged 8.3 points a game last season. That’s fairly average but Vanderbilt was often playing only seven guys per game. The bench was extremely short and Parker had to log a lot of minutes. Even as a bench guy, he was second on the team with 34.5 minutes played. His defense was fairly sound and when Vanderbilt played well in the middle of the SEC regular season before faltering at the end, Parker was a part of that period of growth for the Commodores. He became a valuable role player on a shorthanded team.
Not having either one of these guys strikes another pair of daggers into a program that hasn’t kept many players in recent years for various reasons. Sheldon Jeter (5.5 PPGs, 3.4 RPG) transferred out of the program a year ago. Kevin Bright, who had become a solid rebounder for the team, averaging 5.5 boards per game and giving Stallings a nonstop-motor guy on the floor, went to Europe to play professional basketball. This past season, big man Josh Henderson suffered an injury that knocked him out of commission before the SEC schedule had had a chance to develop. It’s been an entirely unlucky period for Vanderbilt basketball. It’s easy to see that the program needed one good and stable year, free of bad luck and distractions, in order to find its footing. This story is so awful for the Commodores not just because it dashes that dream of a peaceful offseason, but because it will continue to limit the bench and depress morale in and around the program. It’s a train wreck at this point.
NCAA Basketball Picks: 2014-2015 Futures
How To Bet The News
A lot of these offseason stories are hard to peg in terms of the betting percentages, but for Vanderbilt, this is a story that hits hard. In terms of the odds, they were at 300/1 to win the NCAA Tournament previously. Their NCAA basketball odds can’t drop much further.
If we had regular season win totals posted already, this news would likely hurt those numbers. As it is now, just expect oddsmakers to open the number with even lower expectations.
The Commodores could not afford more attrition but here they are. Their limitations are going to hurt them early in the season, and they should hurt them in the latter stages of the next season as well. It’s just that simple.