The SEC East is so deep this season that Vanderbilt comes in fifth out of six teams, but is ranked 35th overall in my "99 in 99." It is sort of unfair, but Vandy is going to have its hands full trying to keep up with Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, and what should be a very improved Georgia team.
The Commodores lose their top two scorers, but return a talented wing of the athletic Jeffery Taylor and sharpshooter John Jenkins. Jenkins' range starts once he crosses halfcourt which is a good complement for Taylor who has practically no outside shot.
Taking over for Jermaine Beal at the point will likely be junior Brad Tinsley who struggled shooting the ball a year ago. Freshmen Kyle Fuller, James Siakiam and Rod Odom will all try to step in and provide some depth on the wing.
Vandy has a lot of depth and size inside to help replace A.J. Ogilvy, who chose to turn pro, but did not get drafted. The question is whether that group can provide the scoring that Ogilvy did.
Festus Ezeli and Steve Tchiengang are big bodies down low who can crash the glass, and Ezeli is a talented shot blocker, but neither is much of a factor on the offensive end unless they are a few feet from the basket.
Flossmoor native Andre Walker will likely have an increased role on the offensive end as he is the most efficient scorer of the bunch. Six-foot-11 freshman Josh Henderson should find his way into the mix as well.
Player to Watch: John Jenkins, SG
Jenkins sort of reminds me of a bigger Stephen Curry in the way they he can hit the threeball from anywhere on the floor as he shot a ridiculous 48.3 percent from three. He earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team and was named the conference's Sixth Man of the Year. Jenkins will draw the attention of opposing defenses all season long and will have to work that much harder for open looks. When he is on, watch out...
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/18 vs. Nebraska (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/19 vs. West Virginia/Davidson (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/21 vs. North Carolina/Hofstra/Minnesota/Western Kentucky (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)