After a beleaguered tenure as an underclassman, Rod Odom left Vanderbilt as one of the Commodores' veteran leaders. Now, a roster low on small forwards will have to find a way to fill the void he left behind.
Odom's graduation leaves the team with only one natural small forward on the roster - freshman Jeff Roberson. He'll be joined by classmate Matthew Fisher-Davis, who is a combo wing that can handle minutes at the 3. However, Fisher-Davis is a skinny guy at 6'5" and 173 pounds, and the 6'6", 206-pound Roberson is better equipped to handle defensive assignments against the SEC's bigger wings this winter.
Another option at small forward is James Siakam, but Vandy fans have learned by now that their Tasmanian Devil in the frontcourt is purely an undersized 4 rather than an average-sized 3. That means that Kevin Stallings is going to have to roll out several lineups that rely on three (or four) guards and a rotation of big men to cover the team's lack of depth at the position. Given Vanderbilt's preference for three-point shooting and post scoring, that won't be a problem for the Commodores.
Here's a look at team's truest small forward for 2014-15:
Jeff Roberson (6'6", 206 lbs), Freshman: Roberson is an under-the-radar prospect who could wind up making a big impact in his first year if his defense can translate to the SEC. The Texan is athletic enough to chase opposing small forwards across the court and has shown the ability to handle smaller power forwards in stretches during his high school career. It will be a big step up in competition, but he'll have the opportunity to contribute right away.
Offensively, he's fast and strong enough to get to the paint and finish at the rim with confidence. The biggest question is whether or not he'll be able to make midrange jumpers and three-pointers with consistency for Vanderbilt. If he can give the team a slashing presence from the perimeter, he may not need to as a freshman.