Jon Rothstein, college basketball analyst for MSG, CBS Sports Network, CBSSports.com, WFAN and Compass Media (double-dip, much?), just interviewed Vanderbilt men's basketball head coach Kevin Stallings. Stallings had a lot to say. Jon Rothstein tweeted it all. You should follow Jon Rothstein. My reaction follows.
Just got off the phone w Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings, whose Commdores could win the SEC- this year.
More after the jump.
Kevin Stallings on Vanderbilt "I've never had this level of talent returning at any point in my career as a head coach."
This is why Vanderbilt is being ranked in many analysts top five to top ten, with the words "final four contender" sometimes being used.
Stallings on John Jenkins "He's as good as anyone in terms of his will 2 get better + improve. He should b an SEC-pre-season POY candidate."
Frankly, we should be talking about how John Jenkins could be the first two-time conference Player of the Year that the SEC has had since Arkansas' Corliss Williamson in '94 and '95. If I were building a team of last season's SEC players, I'm picking John Jenkins ahead of Chandler Parsons.
Stallings on Jeffery Taylor "He practices the hardest of anyone on our team. His biggest challenge is his inconsistency of emotion."
Stallings on Taylor cont'd "He needs to learn that perfect is not the enemy of good. He doesn't have to be perfect."
As I've discussed on AOG in the past, nobody can stop Jeffery Taylor but himself. If he develops a killer instinct, he is unstoppable. Kevin Stallings most successful Commodore teams have had one thing in common: a senior that finally put it together mentally. In 2004, it was Matt Freije. In 2007, Derrick Byars. Though both those guys hold a special place in Commodore lore, there is no question that Jeffery Taylor is on a whole other level. If he matches the fire both of those former players displayed their senior seasons, Vanderbilt is definitely in the final four picture.
Stallings on Festus Ezeli "He can step out now + make a 15 footer. We just want to see a natural maturation + progression."
Every single other coach in the SEC just shit their pants. Including Calipari. Anthony Davis needs to work on his big boy muscles.
Stallings on Brad Tinsley "His ability to play multiple positions will help him stay on the floor."
Brad Tinsley is clearly the most underrated starter in the Commodores' lineup. All he's done is drop the school's first-ever triple-double. No big deal. Senior point guards are ALWAYS important. Never underestimate them.
Stallings on Kedren Johnson "His biggest strength is making people better through his extroadinary vision + passing skills."
I suppose being six-foot-four helps a point guard see the floor. I'm interested to see Kedren when he's applying himself on the defensive end. When other teams extend their half-court defense, Kedren has the size and frame to make defenses pay. His specialty in high school was finishing through contact.
Stallings on Da'Jon Parker "He can be elite defender but he's already a very good offensive player."
When Dai-Jon signed, it was thought that he could end up being the team's second best shooter in 2011-2012. His perimeter defense (top-ranked in his class) will get him minutes. His offense could help him establish a larger role.
Steve was clearly playing at less than 100% last season and appears to be getting back to full strength. True Freshman Shelby Moats could be the next Matt Freije.
Kevin Stallings also is high on Vandy RS freshman center Josh Henderson, who should add some girth behind Festus Ezeli.
By all accounts, Josh Henderson could have played last winter (especially after he began to get comfortable as the season progressed). He really took advantage of the red shirt and will be all the better for it.
Stallings on Vanderbilt's strengths "The reason why we have a chance is bc of our flexibility. Guys can play in different spots."
Not surprising. The Commodores are DEEP this season.
Stallings on which SEC-team could be a surprise "Arkansas bc I think they'll buy into Mike Anderson's style immediately."
Though there are no divisions this season, Arkansas is still playing an SEC West schedule and will absolutely benefit from it. I'd have to agree with Coach here.
"Midnight Madness" is October 15th. Last year, Stallings mentioned the team might try to host an event for the first time in about five years. If this comes to be, look for news in the next few weeks.