Vanderbilt’s Answers Begin at Point GuardPosted by Brian Joyce on October 17th, 2012
After a historic SEC Tournament championship run, Vanderbilt watched as three Commodores were selected on NBA Draft night. Though senior Brad Tinsley was not one of them, his departure left a monumental void at the point guard position. Tinsley, a frustrating player for ‘Dores’ fans at times, remained a steadying influence for Kevin Stallings’ club with 9.0 points, 4.1 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game last season. His senior leadership anchored one of the best offensive squads in the conference, thus finding a suitable replacement will not come easily. The Commodores find themselves in a year of transition, and the question that will prove most crucial to Vanderbilt’s adjustment will be whether Stallings can find consistency and production at the point.
The Commodores have two talented and eager options in the backcourt. Junior Kyle Fuller, coming off a disappointing sophomore campaign, has the skills to develop into a strong contributor. He is quick enough to penetrate the lane, and makes good decisions with the ball. Fuller has shown that he is capable but will need to provide more consistent effort to see extended minutes. He never scored more than five points all of last season, and also never seemed to get into his comfort zone on the court.
The likely candidate to begin the year as the starter is sophomore Kedren Johnson. Johnson has good size at 6’4″ and has shown flashes of becoming a solid long-term player for the ‘Dores. He averaged just 3.1 points per game last year, but worked his way into more consistent playing time late in the season. In fact, Johnson played double figure minutes in his last 11 games. It is clear that Stallings trusts Johnson with running the offense, but he will need a big step up from the young player this season. Vanderbilt needs a leader it can trust, and with the top six scorers gone from a championship team a season ago (and also 87.7 percent of the scoring), the ‘Dores might need Johnson to step into that role quicker than expected.
Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.