A couple of weeks ago, following the commitment of Liam Robbins, a 7-foot transfer from Minnesota, I wrote that Vanderbilt’s frontcourt issues had been mostly solved.
And then Dylan Disu transferred. Unsurprisingly, earlier this week, Disu committed to Texas. (Funny how that worked out.)
And now? Well, I won’t say we’re back at square one, but the roster without Disu and possibly without Scotty Pippen Jr. suddenly looks like one that will probably struggle. If Pippen doesn’t return, Vanderbilt will have eleven scholarship players for next season and two scholarships available. Just two of those — Robbins and another transfer, Rodney Chatman — will be seniors next season. Of note is that Vanderbilt already has three players committed in the 2022 recruiting class — Noah Shelby and Lee Dort, both top 150 recruits from Dallas, and Presley Patterson, a currently-unranked recruit from Knoxville Catholic. That presents a bit of a math problem for additional players: Vanderbilt presumably would need to be sure that at a minimum, three scholarships are available in the 2022 class, which would lean toward not adding any more players to next year’s roster or only adding players who will be in their last year of eligibility.
Anyway, let’s take another look!
Guards: Rodney Chatman, Tyrin Lawrence, Trey Thomas, Peyton Daniels
The addition of Chatman has made this a bit less of a problem area than it was a couple of weeks ago; then again, this group could really use a guy to carry the scoring load. Chatman isn’t really a scorer; Thomas showed some ability to score in bunches as a freshman, but nothing on the level of Scotty Pippen Jr.
I’m really just not sure what to think of Tyrin Lawrence, who was the highest-rated recruit in Vanderbilt’s 2020 recruiting class and is a guy who Jerry Stackhouse seems to like as the team’s point guard of the future, but he only appeared in seven games last season before tearing his ACL. Peyton Daniels will probably back up both guard spots as a freshman, and Rodney Chatman has a similar skill set to the departed Max Evans. But again, where are the points going to come from here?
Wings: Jordan Wright, Myles Stute, Braelee Albert, Gabe Dorsey
Jordan Wright is what he is, a hard worker and a versatile player who’s useful as a fourth or fifth scoring option; the problem, on this roster, is that he’s probably more like the second or third scoring option. Still, he’s probably the surest option for a starting spot at the three out of this group, because the rest of these guys are unproven.
Myles Stute can fill what my colleague at Rock M Nation, Sam Snelling, likes to call the “combo forward” role — playing both the three and the four while not clearly having a skill set for either spot (at 6’7”, he’s too small to play the four full-time, while his jump shot as a freshman wasn’t consistent enough to stick at the three.) Unless there’s a big improvement here, that looks like a sixth man at best. Braelee Albert is a walk-on who can eat a few minutes here or there, but isn’t somebody I want on the floor twenty minutes a night.
That leaves Gabe Dorsey, an incoming freshman who’s 6’6” and ranks as a three-star recruit. It would be helpful if he can come in and start right away, because that would mean he’s at least as good as Wright. But counting on him to carry the offense as a freshman is a big ask.
Bigs: Liam Robbins, Terren Frank, Quentin Millora-Brown, Akeem Odusipe
Robbins is legitimately a guy who could be a star, albeit more as a defensive stopper than an offensive force — which isn’t to say that he’s a bad offensive player, but he’s probably not a guy who can carry an offense. But he might be this team’s best offensive player with Disu gone.
Terren Frank is interesting as a guy who was reasonably highly rated as a recruit going in to TCU, where he didn’t play much as a freshman. He had a nice four-game stretch in February that showed some upside, but outside of that, he barely got off the bench. It’s probably not great to rely on a former benchwarmer for a mediocre team, but Frank is probably the only “true” four on this roster — the other option is to go small with Stute playing that spot.
As for the other two bigs, I like what I saw from Quentin Millora-Brown in his first season with Vanderbilt, but I noted earlier that he’s probably better off in a part-time role backing up Liam Robbins — so that addition helps him probably more than anyone. Akeem Odusipe appeared to be a long way from contributing in limited action as a freshman.
So... next year’s going to suck, isn’t it?
Maybe. One thing I will note here is that the makeup of the roster actually looks pretty good. If you look at the “traditional” positions one through five, Vanderbilt at least has someone who can play at every spot, and they should have some versatility off the bench as well.
Here’s the problem: if I project the starting five as Tyrin Lawrence, Rodney Chatman, Jordan Wright, Terren Frank, and Liam Robbins, I’m not sure any of those guys outside of Robbins and maybe Chatman would be starters anywhere else in the SEC (except for Georgia and maybe Texas A&M, both of which are going through some things right now.) You could substitute Myles Stute for Terren Frank, but then you have a pretty small lineup.
And this gets you to the same place Vanderbilt has been the last two years, with one of the weakest rosters in the SEC, but unlike the last two years this Vanderbilt roster doesn’t have any player who I can see carrying the offense in the manner of Pippen last season, or Aaron Nesmith and Saben Lee the season before. It’s possible to overcome that if everyone is carrying their weight, but then there aren’t that many proven parts elsewhere, either.