Vanderbilt Basketball reloaded for the future when they brought in a bumper crop of recruits in the class of 2015. Now, Kevin Stallings and his staff are hustling to add a pair of top 40 prospects for 2016.
Nashville's Braxton Blackwell and Virginian Javin Montgomery-DeLaurier have emerged as the Commodores' top two recruiting targets for the upcoming season. Stallings is putting all hands on deck to land these top prospects, sending his entire staff up to Long Island for the Adidas Uprising to help sway the young forwards towards Vanderbilt. A recent tweet from ESPN's Jeff Borzello confirmed as much:
Vanderbilt going full staff/four-deep for Braxton Blackwell and Javin Montgomery-DeLaurier. Priority targets. #adidasuprising— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) July 16, 2015
Getting either player would be a major recruiting victory for the 'Dores. Blackwell is a four-star small forward who plays in Vandy's backyard at Christ Presbyterian Academy. At 6'8" and somewhere between 205 and 240 pounds, he's a versatile athlete who could play either forward position in the NCAA. He has a solid enough shot to fit in as a three-point shooter in Kevin Stallings's offense, but his exceptional athleticism also allows him to put the ball on the floor and finish through contact at the rim. He's the kind of explosive playmaker who could help relieve the clogs in the Vandy offense and create space for shooters like Riley LaChance and Wade Baldwin IV in the backcourt.
Montgomery-DeLaurier is slightly taller than Blackwell and projects as a power forward at the next level. At 6'9" and 205 pounds he'll have to add some muscle to play in the paint on a regular basis, but a developing shooting game could make him a stretch four in Nashville. He's a work in progress, but his all-around skills make him a diverse weapon that could fit into any program's lineup.
Luring either four-star forward to Vanderbilt will be a tough task for Stallings and his crew. They'll have to beat out scholarship offers from traditional powers like Kansas, Florida, Louisville, North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio State, and Michigan State to secure a commitment from either player. That's going to put extra pressure on the program to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2016. A big season from a team stocked with underclassman talent would be a convincing argument for any high school senior who wants to spend his college career on a winning team.
Vanderbilt is projected to have two scholarship slots available due to the upcoming graduations of Josh Henderson and Carter Josephs. If Damian Jones decides to turn pro after his junior year - he's currently projected to be a first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft - then they'll have an extra offer for prospects like Wenyen Gabriel and Edward Ekiyor. Players like that wouldn't just go a long way in replacing Jones; they'd add depth to a potential championship roster while setting the foundation in place for a bright future.