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Postseason Player Review: Djery Baptiste

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Every once in a while, Djery Baptiste played with energy. When he didn’t, it wasn’t pretty.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Vanderbilt vs Texas A&M Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

As the old adage goes, you can’t teach size.

There’s a reason why Djery Baptiste is on the Vanderbilt Commodores’ roster. He’s not very good right now, but guys who are 6’10” and 240 pounds who are also athletic and coordinated, let’s say, do not grow on trees. But Baptiste was so raw coming in that even after a redshirt year to work with the coaching staff, he still played 7.8 minutes per game and averaged just 1.8 points and 1.9 rebounds while appearing in all 35 of Vanderbilt’s games.

At the same time, though...

MPG Points Rebounds Assists Turnovers Blocks ORTG ORB % DRB % TO % BLK % AST % eFG% TS% Fouls/40
Djery Baptiste, 2016-17 7.8 9.2 9.5 0.1 3.5 2.0 88.0 11.1% 16.2% 31.4% 5.3% 0.7% 52.1% 54.8% 8.6
Festus Ezeli, 2008-09 12.4 12.2 8.2 0.1 4.8 2.4 80.9 9.8% 13.8% 33.4% 6.4% 0.6% 54.7% 54.4% 6.4
Ted Skuchas, 2003-04 9.7 9.0 5.9 1.0 3.1 1.3 82.5 6.7% 10.4% 28.0% 3.8% 4.7% 47.4% 48.5% 7.2
Darius Coulibaly, 1998-99 6.7 6.0 13.2 0.0 2.2 2.5 53.3% 53.8% 7.9

Those are stats from the various redshirt freshman seasons of past Vanderbilt big men, and no I did not do this just so that I could make references to Ted Skuchas and Darius Coulibaly in the same post. Take from that chart what you will (but especially that we’ve forgotten just how offensively inept Darius Coulibaly was), but I think the main takeaway is that raw big men sometimes develop.

I mean, yeah, Ted Skuchas was never anything more than a backup big man and crowd favorite, and Coulibaly managed to score 125 points in four years. But can you tell much difference between their freshman year stat lines and Festus Ezeli’s? Can you tell much difference between Ezeli and Baptiste?

As far as Baptiste goes, he was about what we expected him to be this season: he was big and almost totally raw. When a guy that big plays with energy, he can make some difference even if he has no discernible basketball skills, and that happened a few times with Baptiste. His high point came when he scored 7 points, grabbed 7 boards, and blocked 3 shots in 18 minutes of action... against Norfolk State. Baptiste also had 8 points in 15 minutes and a couple of blocks against Mississippi State late in the season. It helped that the former was a bad team and the latter was also inexperienced.

But the low points came when Baptiste wasn’t playing with energy. Like, say, committing four fouls in six minutes against Kentucky. In the comments in the post about Clevon Brown the other day, I noted that Baptiste wasn’t really any worse than Brown — it’s just that when Baptiste was bad, he was very visibly bad. Committing weak fouls that resulted in and-ones. Missing dunks. Getting dunked on.

With all that said, though, Baptiste’s 2016-17 season was about par for the course for a big guy who hasn’t been playing basketball for very long. And honestly, he was about as good as a redshirt freshman as Festus Ezeli was. We’ve just forgotten how much of a project he was.

We don’t know how he’ll develop, but he’s probably better than Ted Skuchas was. Probably.

Grade: Gentleman’s C. Wasn’t this about what we expected?