I’m writing the player reviews in reverse order of minutes played, and I admit to being as surprised as you are that Jeff Roberson is the last player in the series.
Granted, it was close — Roberson played seven more minutes, total, than Luke Kornet, and 18 more than Riley LaChance; those were also the three Commodores who started all 35 games. A big reason why Bryce Drew was able to get away with playing a short bench — the Commodores only had nine players from semester break on, and two of those played sparingly — was that Jeff Roberson and Luke Kornet were so good at defending without fouling. Roberson wasn’t as good at that as Kornet, but he averaged 3.3 fouls per 40 minutes as a junior. Had he averaged 4.7 per 40 minutes like he did in 2015-16, Vanderbilt would have been in trouble.
On the other hand, like Matthew Fisher-Davis, Roberson struggled transitioning from being an afterthought (he actually attempted the fewest shots per 40 minutes of any Commodore regular in 2015-16) to being a key player. Roberson had the third-highest usage rate on the team after Fisher-Davis and Kornet, and let’s just say that he wasn’t great on the offensive end. As a sophomore, Roberson shot 52.5 percent on twos and 43.5 percent on threes; as a junior, those numbers were 46.6 percent and 33.9 percent, respectively. In SEC play, his numbers were a bit more respectable (50 percent on twos, 34.6 percent on threes.) That’s not terrible, but it does illustrate the difficulty of transitioning from the fifth scoring option to being probably the third.
But really, we focus too much on shooting and scoring here. Roberson was the team’s leader in both rebounds and steals, and he was third on the team in assists. If Matthew Fisher-Davis and Riley LaChance are the scorers in next year’s senior class, Jeff Roberson is the glue guy. And if his offensive efficiency gets back to where it was his sophomore year, he could be a really good player for Vanderbilt.
Grade: A-minus. The drop in shooting percentages keeps this from being a straight A, but aside from Luke Kornet, Roberson might have been the team’s most important player.