Vanderbilt's rebuilding process will be put to the test in 2015. The Commodores will play in the EA Sports Maui Invitational two years from now, giving them the chance to test themselves against teams like Indiana, Kansas, and UCLA in Hawaii.
The 'Dores previously played in Maui in 2009. They lost in the first round to Cincinnati, but rebounded to beat Chaminade and Arizona to claim fifth place. Since then, Vandy has played in the Legends' Classic, the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Old Spice Classic, and Paradise Jam as the team's talent level ebbed and flowed over the past four years. Returning to the prestigious preseason tournament should give this team's national profile a boost in a year where Vanderbilt basketball could return to the lofty heights of the Foster-Ogilvy-Jenkins era.
The Commodores should bring a talented team to Hawaii in 2015. Two years from now, the 'Dores will likely be led by Kedren Johnson, Eric McClellan, Damian Jones, and a handful of four-star recruits. Vanderbilt currently has the 29th-ranked recruiting class for 2014 despite having only three players committed. Wade Baldwin, Matthew Fisher-Davis, and Riley LaChance are all four-star players who could make up a dynamite backcourt alongside Johnson and McClellan. A few big men to round out the roster in the classes of 2014 and 2015 could play alongside Jones and Luke Kornet and make the 'Dores a sleeper pick in Maui two years from now.
2015 is a long ways away, but the Maui Invitational is something that coach Kevin Stallings and sell to recruits this winter. It's also an indicator in the confidence Stallings and his staff have in this team's rebuilding process. Vanderbilt has typically scheduled softer opponents in down years. Two years from now, they'll be set to jump into a fray that includes traditional powerhouses like Indiana and Kansas and other solid programs like Wake Forest, St. John's, and UNLV.
The entire 2015 Maui Invitational field is below: