At approximately 7:45pm Central Standard Time, Vanderbilt sent shockwaves through college basketball and moved back toward national relevance with the commitments of teammates Lee Dort and Noah Shelby.
Growing concerns about Jerry Stackhouse and his ability to recruit at a high level were creeping into the back of the minds of even the most optimistic Vanderbilt fans after 2 underwhelming classes. Coach Stackhouse put an end to that narrative in one fell swoop.
Lee Dort, a 4/5 star center from Addison, TX, is currently the 59th ranked player in the country, 9th at his position, and 8th in the state. He held offers from Kansas, Memphis, Auburn, Baylor, Texas, Arkansas, among others.
The 6’ 9” class of 2022 post is a player that Vanderbilt rarely has suited up in the black and gold. While there is no shortage of solid big men who have played in Memorial Gym, few have possessed the raw athleticism and size Dort brings to the table.
Think back to recent Commodore teams of the last 15-20 years, what big men come to mind? AJ Ogilvy, Luke Kornet, Damian Jones, and…. Festus Ezeli. Dort’s game reminds me of a combination of the athleticism and skill of Damian Jones paired with the more developed “grown man” size of Festus Ezeli.
While both Jones and Ezeli were solid big men for the Dores, Ezeli was a project coming in, and thankfully developed after years in the program. Jones had the raw athleticism but was pretty slim and had issues with scoring outside of dunking and staying out of foul trouble.
Dort has soft hands, a good feel for finding space in the paint and transition, elite athleticism, and is a great shot blocker. It is always hard to judge big men based on their high school film, most of the time they are playing against guys who simply can’t compete against their superior size, however, Dort was able to show his skill and ability to take over even in the AAU circuit against highly touted competition.
Lee Dort already has the size, athleticism, and skill to be a good big man in the SEC, but to develop into the dominant player he has the capability of becoming, continuing to develop a back to the basket game and consistent outside jumper will be key.
Noah Shelby. Remember the name.
What is the one consistent complaint about recent Commodore teams (besides lack of a consistent post presence and shot blocking)? Shooting
The 4-star shooting guard, hailing from Texas as well, is currently ranked 104th nationally, 13th at his position, and 13th in the state. Shelby is one of the premier shooters in the class of 2022, possessing elite range and ability to shoot off the dribble or pass.
The 6’ 3” guard has a consistent and pretty jump shot with the ability to heat up and take over games. His athleticism is not elite, and his ball handling will need to improve if he wants the ability to play the point, but the great lost art in college basketball, shooting, is his specialty. He has the ability to make an immediate impact when he steps on campus.
Jerry Stackhouse addressed three glaring holes with the commitments of Noah Shelby and Lee Dort. Rim protection, post presence, and shooting. While they won’t see action on the hardwood this upcoming season, the future is looking bright for the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Now that the positivity is out of my system, after the initial wave of joy that coursed through my body, my inner Vanderbilt fan came out. What happened last time Vanderbilt brought in a “program changing” recruits? I don’t think I need to elaborate. I will temper expectations until I see these guys on the court, but it is hard to not get excited about the prospect of good Vanderbilt Commodore basketball.
It is a damn good day to be a Dore.