SEC media relations czar Craig Pinkerton knows exactly who Riley LaChance is. He had to announce that the Vanderbilt guard won the league's Freshman of the Week award four times this season.
LaChance burst onto the scene in his first year in Nashville by giving the Commodores a sharp-shooting scoring threat. The Wisconsinite turned heads with a pair of 26-point performances before becoming the most hated player of opposing student sections across the SEC. His ability to drain key jumpers was a reliable run-busting trait that helped the 'Dores rally to a 10-4 finish in the final two months of the season.
Did he live up to the expectations placed on him as an overlooked high school recruit? Let's dig a big deeper into his Vanderbilt debut.
Preseason expectations: LaChance had a well-earned reputation as a hard worker and pinpoint shooter, but it was unclear whether or not his slight frame and lateral speed would keep him from making an impact as a true freshman. Many recruiting services pegged the Wisconsinite as a point guard thanks in part to his size, but it became immediately clear that LaChance was well suited to play off the ball as a scoring threat. The biggest question was whether or not he could get into the lane and score around the rim against SEC opponents.
2014-15 Stats: 33.3 mpg, 12.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.9 apg, 0.7 steals, 43.6 FG%, 38.2 3PT%
2014-15 Comments: No Commodore played more minutes than LaChance, who made an immediate impact by scoring 26 points against Purdue in December and then following that up with another 26 performance in his next matchup against Western Carolina. Riley's offense was a big piece of Vandy's success. The Commodores went 15-4 when he scored a dozen points or more. They went 4-6 when he failed to crack double digits.
Did Riley underperform, meet expectations, or exceed expectations? Riley adjusted to the college game immediately and exceeded expectations throughout the season. His scoring was the headline of his 2014-15 season, but he also displayed value by protecting the ball against pressure defenses. LaChance had the lowest turnover rate on the team despite having a high usage rate that put the ball in his hands at the perimeter throughout the season.
2015-16 expectations: LaChance was a member of the SEC's All-Freshman team in 2015. The next step is a spot on the All-League team in 2016. However, he'll have to step up his shooting and defense to get there. A late-season slump dropped his three-point shooting below 40 percent for the season. He also rated out as a below-average defender thanks to a negative defensive rating for the year. Fixing the former problem will be easier than the latter due to LaChance's average speed and below-average size at shooting guard. He'll also have to handle some of the team's point guard duties now that Shelton Mitchell has decided to transfer from the university.