Monday was an eventful day for the Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball program with the point guard situation for the 2022-23 season coming into focus.
As most expected, Scotty Pippen Jr. announced through social media that he would be entering the NBA draft. Pippen tested the NBA waters a year ago before electing to return to the Commodores, but this time he stated he would hire an agent — officially eliminating the possibility of a return.
While Pippen had a successful season individually – earning 1st-team All-SEC honors for the 2nd straight year and leading the conference in scoring – it’s debatable how much he improved his draft stock during his junior season. His inconsistent perimeter shooting and turnover issues, which hurt his professional prospects a year ago, showed little to no improvement this season.
Most NBA Draft experts believe Pippen is a late-second-round pick but, don’t be surprised if he goes undrafted. According to NBADraftRoom.com, Pippen’s height isn’t helping him out when it comes to scouts’ perception of him. Here’s what one said: “If he was 2 inches taller we might be talking about him as a mid-first-round pick but as he stands now he’s likely a second-round grade.”
A few hours before Pippen’s announcement (timing that likely wasn’t coincidental), the Commodores landed a commitment from point guard UC Davis transfer point guard Ezra Manjon. The Antioch, California native is a 3-time All Big-West selection, including first-team this past season. He averaged 15 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game this past season, shooting 43% from the field, 20% from three, and 72% from the free-throw line. Manjon has two seasons of eligibility remaining and looks like the front-runner to take over Pippen’s spot in the lineup.
After the Manjon commitment, Vandy still had one scholarship remaining and that was quickly snatched up by Paul Lewis, the final commitment in Coach Stackhouse’s 2022 recruiting class. The Arlington, Virginia native chose the Commodores after de-committing from Maryland. Following his visit to West End this past weekend, Lewis must’ve come away impressed with Stackhouse’s vision. With good size for the position at 6-3, Lewis has an explosive ability to get to the basket and make plays at the rim. Lewis, a top-15 player in the state of Virginia and a top-50 PG in the country, was a 1st-team All-State selection at Bishop O’Connell High School.
As it stands, the PG battle will feature Noah Shelby, Ezra Manjon, and Paul Lewis. Without Pippen on the roster, the Commodores’ chances of making the NCAA Tournament next season have taken a hit but, the depth is there. Will Stackhouse be able to put it all together in year 4? Only time will tell.