Vanderbilt Guard Dai-Jon Parker SuspendedPosted by KAlmekinder on October 31st, 2012
Coming off its first SEC Tournament title since 1952 and losing a majority of their offense from last season due to the NBA Draft or graduation, Vanderbilt already knew it would have to replace many pieces on this season’s team. Today, they will have to add sophomore guard Dai-Jon Parker to the list because of a non-academic suspension. Head coach Kevin Stallings announced Tuesday that the projected starting shooting guard will be suspended indefinitely because Parker “failed to uphold the high standard that we expect of a Vanderbilt basketball player and will be disciplined accordingly.” Parker and sophomore Kedren Johnson were expected to fill the voids left by Brad Tinsley, John Jenkins, and Jeffery Taylor, all upperclassmen who left after last season due to graduation or to pursue professional careers. The guard trio of Tinsley/Jenkins/Taylor provided Vanderbilt’s most dangerous weapon: 244 three-pointers on a blistering 43% clip and high offensive efficiency numbers. Parker and Johnson, on the other hand, were substituted into the rotation last year with very minimal roles.
The departures of Tinsley, Jenkins, and Taylor, as well as experienced defensive big men Festus Ezeli, Lance Goulbourne, and Steve Tchiengang, made up arguably Vanderbilt’s most well-rounded team in the Kevin Stallings era. The Commodores’ offensive efficiency (115.7) ranked #11 in the country while their defensive efficiency (92.7) was solid at #30. Sky-high expectations after winning the SEC Tournament over heavily favored Kentucky quickly came crashing down when Vanderbilt lost to Wisconsin in the Third Round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, one step short of the school’s first Sweet Sixteen since 2007.
Stallings will have to start over with a very inexperienced team, paralleling his early days in Nashville. He came to Vanderbilt in 1999 after winning consecutive conference regular season and tournaments at Illinois State, but it took him four years before he started finding success in the difficult SEC East. The Commodore teams from 1999 to 2003 only averaged 15.5 wins per year and reached the postseason twice (NIT appearances in 2000 and 2002). Since the 2003-04 season, however, Vanderbilt has mirrored the Kevin Stallings’ Illinois State teams by winning an average of 22 contests per year and earning six NCAA Tournament appearances in the last nine seasons. Will a down year or two breed ultimate success when Parker (upon his return), Johnson, and Vandy’s other underclassmen gain more experience? History seems to suggest that Stallings will figure it out and make the pieces work.