Anchor of Gold's rear view look at the 2014-15 season continues today with an examination of a crowd favorite. Luke Kornet had a quasi-breakout season as a sophomore thanks to some explosive performances from long range. The seven-foot power forward gave the 'Dores an extra dimension in the front court thanks to his three-point shooting and paired up with James Siakam to give the team a dynamic platoon in the paint.
Kornet struggled through his share of ups and downs, but the peaks were much more memorable than the valleys. His 21-point performance helped carry Vanderbilt over Tennessee in Knoxville. He had six different games in which he made three or more three-pointers. And, he had one of the most consistently entertaining Twitter feeds among all Commodore athletes.
Here's today's look back at Luke Kornet's sophomore season.
Preseason expectations: Kornet added muscle and grew another few inches (he's currently 8'3") in 2014. That, coupled with his in-and-out play as a freshman, made him an intriguing candidate to grow into a high-ceiling starter at power forward. His ball handling and shooting gave him the ability to stretch the floor, but Luke still had to prove that he could defend bigger forwards and pull down rebounds in traffic in order to be a true SEC big man.
2014-15 Stats: 21.6 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.1 blocks, 49.5 FG%, 40.0 3PT%
2014-15 Comments: Kornet had three games in which he scored 20 or more points this season. He also had three in which he scored zero. The sophomore grew through an see-saw year that saw him emerge as Kevin Stallings's dream forward on some nights and a Vandy fan's nightmare on others. Even so, his true shooting percentage rose by more than 200 points in 2015 - a testament to his solid offensive play across the board and his development as a three-point threat.
The sophomore also made strides as a defender, though lapses kept him from pulling together a complete improvement in his second year. Kornet's rebounding rate improved as a sophomore and his PER and defensive win shares followed suit thanks to his newfound strength and length. While no one is going to confuse him with Damian Jones, Luke is developing into a solid shot blocker who can help on rotations and reroute shots on the inside. However, he fouled more in 2014-15 and his defensive +/- took a downturn as a sophomore.
Did Luke underperform, meet expectations, or exceed expectations? Kornet showed flashes of ability in an uneven season and his overall performance settled in at "meeting expectations." That's not a bad thing - in fact, it's more of a reflection of the potential we saw on the 6'3" guard who grew into a seven-foot-tall lottery ticket in the past three years. Kornet has the raw tools to be the best power forward Vandy has had since Matt Freije.
2015-16 expectations: The starting power forward spot is Kornet's to lose now that James Siakam has graduated. However, he'll have to prove that he can provide tough man-to-man defense in the paint if he's going to fend off bulkier incoming big men D'Jery Baptiste and Samir Sehic. Kornet is a much more polished player than either and light years ahead in terms of having NCAA-ready offensive arsenal.
Luke made big strides as a sophomore and developed into a deadly three-point threat. When he's feeling it Kornet is a game-changing athlete. Commodore fans are going to expect him to be more consistent in 2016. If he can be the sweet-shooting, floor-stretching player that helped push the 'Dores past Tennessee and South Dakota State then he will be the veteran leader of an NCAA Tournament team.