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Updated Basketball Scholarship Chart: How the Lawrence commitment affects the long-term

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How long is this rebuild going to take?

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Vanderbilt vs Arkansas Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, Vanderbilt landed a commitment from 2020 recruit Tyrin Lawrence, a combo guard from Madison, Georgia, by way of Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas. That is Vanderbilt’s second recruit in the 2020 class, joining fall signee Myles Stute, and when you consider three transfers (two of whom sat out the past year, one of whom should be arriving in the fall), Vanderbilt will have five new players next season.

But that’s balanced out by the setback of, potentially, four departing players: Saben Lee and Aaron Nesmith have declared for the NBA Draft (Lee may still come back, though his announcement seemed to have some degree of finality that isn’t normally seen from guys who are merely testing the waters, and Nesmith has already hired an agent and is likely a first-round pick.) Meanwhile, Matthew Moyer and Oton Jankovic announced shortly after the season that they were transferring; Moyer, in fact, has already found his new destination (George Washington.) The flipside is that Clevon Brown qualifies for a medical redshirt which would allow him to return next season; notably, Brown wasn’t recognized on Senior Night, suggesting that the coaching staff expects him back next season.

So, here is what Vanderbilt’s roster situation looks like for the next few years — obviously, not everybody is going to be here for all four years, and I’m intentionally sidestepping the question of whether Lee returns at the moment. (Also, Lee would be a senior next year, so it doesn’t really affect anything beyond that.)

Scholarship chart

Position 2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24
Position 2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24
PG Pippen (So.) Pippen (Jr.) Pippen (Sr.) McBride (Sr.)
McBride (Fr.) McBride (So.) McBride (Jr.)
CG Evans (Sr.) Lawrence (So.) Lawrence (Jr.) Lawrence (Sr.)
Lawrence (Fr.)
SG Harvey (Jr.) Harvey (Sr.)
GF Wright (So.) Wright (Jr.) Wright (Sr.)
SF Stute (Fr.) Stute (So.) Stute (Jr.) Stute (Sr.)
CF Disu (So.) Disu (Jr.) Disu (Sr.)
PF Brown (Sr.)
FC Obinna (Jr.) Obinna (Sr.) Millora-Brown (Sr.)
Millora-Brown (So.) Millora-Brown (Jr.)
C
TOTAL 11 9 7 3

A few thoughts:

  • The positions listed are mostly for organizational purposes, so this isn’t meant to be a debate over whether Maxwell Evans is a combo guard or a shooting guard, but rather to illustrate potential needs over the next few seasons.
  • Honestly, next year’s roster looks like it could be more competitive than I initially thought even without Lee and Nesmith. The return of Clevon Brown and the addition of Quentin Millora-Brown gives Vanderbilt some rim protection it simply didn’t have in 2018-19 (at least, after Brown got hurt), and a backcourt of Pippen, Evans, and Harvey, with Lawrence either coming off the bench or supplanting Evans in the starting lineup. Myles Stute and Jordan Wright offer some versatility. Granted, a lot of this assumes a big step forward from Dylan Disu, but you can talk yourself into the team winning a few SEC games and maybe even being an NIT team if some things break their way.
  • With that said, the frontcourt could clear out pretty quickly. Brown is gone after next season, and given the recent history of fourth-year players who have a year of eligibility left but haven’t developed, Ejike Obinna may be gone as well. And I don’t want to put any bad mojo out there, but NBA types have noticed Disu already.
  • What to do with the last couple of scholarships for next year? One of those, I would assume, will be held open for Saben Lee until he officially decides whether he’ll be back or not (and if he doesn’t come back, I’d expect Braelee Albert to be put on scholarship for next season.) Either way, Vanderbilt should go into the 2021 recruiting cycle with at least three scholarships available, and possibly more.
  • The frontcourt, obviously, is going to be a focus of the 2021 class: Vanderbilt actually looks to be pretty well set one through three for a year or two after that (assuming, of course, D.J. Harvey returns for his senior season and nobody transfers or gets any ideas about the NBA Draft.) Things get harder to predict beyond that — Vanderbilt will have at least seven guys on the roster next year who are either freshmen or sophomores, which means that the 2022 class could either be quiet or a big one if some of those guys leave the program.
  • How long until the team competes for a NCAA Tournament bid? You can squint and see it happening in 2022 if Harvey is as advertised, Disu develops, and the rest of the roster stays in one piece — but that’s a lot of things that have to go right. 2023 is the more likely answer when all the freshmen and sophomores are juniors and seniors — but in today’s college basketball, assuming that all those freshmen and sophomores will ever be juniors and seniors (at least, for your program) is a fool’s errand. So a lot of that depends on what happens in the 2021 and 2022 recruiting classes.