Vanderbilt needs a new men's basketball coach. On Sunday, Kevin Stallings confirmed he was leaving Nashville to take the head coach position at Pittsburgh.
Kevin Stallings spent 17 years on the baseline at Memorial Gym. His 332 victories are more than anyone else who ever coached the Commodores. No one program history has qualified for the NCAA Tournament more times than Stallings' seven appearances. His teams recorded 20 or more wins in eight of his 17 seasons.
While Stallings unquestionably raised the profile of Vanderbilt basketball and brought future NBA talent like Derrick Byars, Jeffery Taylor, Festus Ezeli, John Jenkins, Wade Baldwin, Damian Jones, and Luke Kornet to campus, his lack of postseason success wore on an impatient fanbase. His Commodores last advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament in 2007. Vanderbilt has failed to win a single game at the big dance in four of its last five appearances.
No word was given on Stallings' replacement. One popular target could be Monmouth head coach King Rice. Rice, the 2016 MAAC Coach of the Year, was an assistant and key recruiter for Vanderbilt before leaving for the New Jersey program in 2011. Another option for the Commodores is Nashville native Will Wade. Wade took VCU to the NCAA Tournament in his first season as the Rams' head coach and is a former Southern Conference Coach of the Year.
Whoever accepts the job in Nashville could be inheriting a roster in flux. Baldwin, Jones, and Kornet must all weigh the pros and cons of foregoing their remaining eligibility to jump into a relatively weak NBA Draft class this spring. Kornet, who regressed as a shooter but made strides as a shot-blocking big man, appears likely to remain on campus. Baldwin and Jones, each regarded as potential first round talent, are more likely to make the jump.
If Baldwin and Jones leave, Stallings' successor would still inherit a Commodore roster with enough talent to slip back in to the NCAA Tournament. Here's what Vandy's 2016-17 roster would look like, assuming that the team's top two players declare for the draft, the two players in Stallings' recruiting class of 2017 stick to their commitment, and Josh Henderson fails to earn a 13th year of NCAA eligibility:
PG: Riley LaChance / Payton Willis
Wings: Matthew Fisher-Davis / Jeff Roberson / Joseph Toye / Camron Justice / Nolan Cressler / Phillip McGloin
Big men: Luke Kornet / Samir Sehic / D'Jery Baptiste / Clevon Brown