Sometimes, growth curves aren’t linear.
As a freshman, Riley LaChance scored 429 points. To put that number in context, that’s more than Shan Foster — Vanderbilt’s all-time leading scorer — had as a freshman. But LaChance’s sophomore year is still a mystery. His shooting percentage dropped like a ro k, largely because he went from converting a solid 49.4 percent of twos as a freshman to an awful 34.0 percent as a sophomore. Riley’s confidence was shaken to the point that in the closing seconds of a loss to Mississippi State — which we’ll all remember as the beginning of the end of the Kevin Stallings era — Bulldogs coach Ben Howland elected to intentionally foul LaChance with Vanderbilt holding a two-point lead.
So we didn’t really know what to expect from LaChance as a junior. But whatever we expected, LaChance exceeded it. He was one of three Commodores to start all 35 games and finished third on the team in minutes played. And while his two-point percentage didn’t quite get back to his freshman year level, he shot an incredible 48.6 percent on threes — that was 12th nationally per KenPom. And he also converted 87.2 percent of the time at the foul line. On the whole, he ranked 63rd in the country in effective FG percentage and 31st in True Shooting percentage; in SEC play he ranked 6th in both categories.
If there was a knock here, Riley’s turnovers have steadily increased. He averaged 1.6 turnovers per 40 minutes as a freshman, 2.1 as a sophomore, and 2.5 as a junior. At least part of that was a result of LaChance functioning as Vanderbilt’s primary point guard in 2016-17.
Of course, there was really little to complain about with Riley handling that role. Now, with Saben Lee and Larry Austin Jr. joining the team next year, he won’t have to. Let’s just hope junior year Riley is back for another go — and maybe we can get sophomore year Matthew Fisher-Davis while we’re at it.
Grade: A-minus. If not for a slightly elevated turnover rate, Riley would be getting a straight A. Yeah, I’m a tough grader here.