Even though Vanderbilt is led by a core of veteran players, the team has seen a surprisingly high rate of turnover amongst its players over the past four years. For A.J. Ogilvy, this meant leaving school early to play professional basketball. For others, it meant taking another shot at college basketball from different schools.
Four former Commodores are currently finishing out their NCAA careers on teams that call somewhere other than Memorial Gym home.
Three Two of these players left after securing degrees from Vanderbilt, playing postgraduate years at a new university. The fourth, Keegan Bell, left the program after a promising freshman season thanks to irreconcilable differences with the coaching staff. [EDIT: Charles Hinkle also left Vanderbilt in the middle of his junior year, transferring to American. Since he only played part of Vandy's 2009-2010 season, he was eligible to play against in the second half of the 2010-2011one.]
All four have been successful in their new locales. While it's likely that only Walker would be a significant piece of the Commodores in 2011-2012, it's an interesting case study to see how these guys have adapted to playing outside of Natchez Trace. Each player is a starter for schools ranging from high-major (Xavier, who transcends the A-10 mid-major label) to low-major (American). However, whether their improved play is the byproduct of personal development or a less-competitive environment is a question that varies from player to player.
Today, we'll look at how these former Commodores are doing through the early portion of the NCAA basketball season.
|Andre Walker - Xavier (6-0)|
|*Walker pulled down 14 rebounds against Vanderbilt :(|
We got to see just how well Andre Walker is adjusting to his new school when he helped lead Xavier to an 82-70 overtime win last week. He's having a typical Andre Walker year - filling up the stat sheet while leading his team to a lofty national ranking. His absence hurts the 'Dores, but his absence also opened up a scholarship slot for the 2011 recruiting class, which could end up playing a huge role both this season and into the future.
|Darshawn McClellan - Louisiana-Lafayette (4-6)|
|*McClellan has eight three-pointers in 10 games for the Ragin' Cajuns.|
Darshawn McClellan also vacated his scholarship after redshirting for his senior year at Vanderbilt. This allowed him to earn his degree in Nashville and play immediately as a graduate student at Louisiana-Lafayette. He's had an impact on the Ragin' Cajuns, stepping into the starting lineup and putting up 13 points in his first game at the university. McClellan is third on the team in both scoring and rebounding.
|Keegan Bell - Chattanooga (2-6)|
|*Bell leads the Mocs in MPG by a significant margin.|
Keegan Bell is making his mark in Chattanooga as a top-level distributor. While his scoring has been inefficient, the point guard ranks 14th nationally in assists per game. Surprisingly, his assist ratio is actually worse as a senior at UTC (an assist for every 5.59 minutes of court play) than it was as a freshman at Vanderbilt (one per 4.82 minutes in Nashville).
Unfortunately, his improvements as a passer haven't helped the Mocs much. Chattanooga has just one win over a Division I program this season.
|Charles Hinkle - American (7-2)|
|*American currently has the best record in the Patriot League. Hinkle is their leading scorer.|
Charles Hinkle apparently found an old pair of Michael Jordan's magic sneakers hanging on a phone line somewhere, because his explosion is downright surprising. Hinkle, a staple of the deep end of Vandy's bench for two years, is sixth in the country in scoring this season. He's become a long-distance volume shooter that has more than quintupled his scoring output after averaging 4.5 points per game in his first season at American. He's attempting more than 10 free throws per game and pulling down 5.6 rebounds as well.
Despite shooting just 40.3 percent from the field, he's averaging an efficient 1.64 points per attempt on his shots. Simply put, his play - even at a low-major school like American - is remarkable.