As we look ahead to a pivotal fifth season for Vanderbilt basketball coach Jerry Stackhouse, it’s becoming clear the roster will have a very different look.
On Saturday freshmen Malik Dia and Noah Shelby announced on social media they would be entering the transfer portal. On Monday senior Jordan Wright did the same, electing to play a fifth season elsewhere.
In addition, junior Tyrin Lawrence announced he would be entering the NBA draft, while retaining his college eligibility – leaving the possibility open for a return to the Commodores. Lawrence will go through the NBA pre-draft process and receive feedback on his potential draft position. He has until June 12 to decide whether to return to Vanderbilt or remain in the draft. This is the same process former Commodore Scotty Pippen Jr. went through both as a sophomore when he elected to return to Vanderbilt, and as a junior when he decided to remain in the draft.
Lawrence had a breakthrough season in his third season, taking over the role of top perimeter scorer that was expected to go to Wright. He averaged 13.1 points while shooting 50% from the field and 36% from three.
After a breakout season as a junior, Wright took a step back in an up-and-down senior season plagued with injuries. He had some forgettable moments – such as getting benched in their home game against Kentucky – to some outstanding moments – when he hit the game-winning jumper to beat those same Wildcats in the rematch at Rupp Arena. Wright started 17 of 34 games he played, averaging 10.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists.
Shelby, a highly touted sharpshooter out of high school, played the fewest games of any scholarship player. He struggled with defense and could never break into the rotation this season. Looking ahead at next season, with a backcourt returning Ezra Manjon, Trey Thomas, and Paul Lewis, along with highly touted incoming freshman Isaiah West and possibly even Lawrence, minutes would likely be hard to come by again.
Dia was forced into action late in the season as an undersized backup post when Liam Robbins was lost for the year and fellow freshman Lee Dort missed extended time with an injury. He came into the season raw and predictably struggled, but also showed some impressive flashes at times. While it looked like Dia could have developed into a quality SEC player, sources indicate his departure wasn’t his decision.
After back-to-back seasons in the NIT, the expectation is to make the NCAA tournament next season. To reach this goal, it appears Stackhouse will be depending on the portal to giveth more than it taketh away. The Dore Report will keep fans up to date on the latest transfer developments…
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