While we were busy here wringing our hands over bad calls and football losses, Kevin Stallings was putting in work on the recruiting trail, adding the team's first member of the class of 2013. The Commodores got a verbal commitment from 6'9" forward/center Damian Jones on Sunday, bringing a much-needed big man into the fold for 2013-2014.
Jones is ranked as a four-star recruit by both ESPN and Rivals.com. He's classified as both a power forward and center, but at 6'9" and 210 pounds, he may be better suited at the four than at the five. He turned down offers from Florida, Alabama, Kansas State, and Stanford to choose Vanderbilt.
He'll join a Commodore team that will be in desperate need of big men. Jones is the first PF/C to choose Nashville since Shelby Moats committed back in 2010. By the time Jones gets to campus, the only projected bigs on the roster will be Moats and Josh Henderson. 2012 recruit Sheldon Jeter could also fill a frontcourt spot if he continues to grow. James Siakam, who has seen limited minutes in his first two years at Vanderbilt, could also earn minutes as an undersized power forward thanks to his tenacity in the paint.
The Baton Rouge big man will have a chance to bolster that lineup immediately. Jones has become an AAU standout thanks to some big-time play around the rim. The lithe forward is a strong shot blocker who rotates well and understands help defense. He supplements a solid defensive game with a growing offensive repertoire that thrives off his ability to work in the post. Though he'll have to add muscle to translate these skills in the SEC, he'll have a chance to come to Vandy as the team's highest rated big man recruit since A.J. Ogilvy back in 2007.
Jones will have a good chance to rise further up the recruiting rankings as a senior. He had been regarded as a mid-major prospect before showing off an improved feel for the game and aggressive style as a junior. If he can continue to grow and add some bulk for 2013, he'll have a chance at developing into a top 50 NCAA recruit.
Damian Jones was a great start to Vanderbilt's recruiting class of 2013. The Louisiana big man will have the opportunity to contribute immediately for a team that will need all the help in the post that they can get. He'll have the chance to follow in the footsteps of guys like Ogilvy, Lance Goulbourne, Steve Tchiengang, and Festus Ezeli by developing into a player who can score and rebound around the rim against the SEC's meanest big men.