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Vanderbilt Basketball Player Preview: Ezra Manjon

The UC-Davis transfer will probably be Vanderbilt’s starting point guard.

NCAA Basketball: UC Davis vs Sacramento State Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

I always find it very difficult to project mid-major transfers to the SEC, something that’s probably going to be a bigger concern starting next week when I roll out my SEC team preview series.

But for Vanderbilt, there’s Ezra Manjon. There are things to like about the 6’0”, 170-pound UC-Davis transfer: he was a three-time All-Big West selection, making the first team last year as a junior; he averaged 13.9 ppg over three seasons, including 15.6 ppg as a sophomore and 15.0 ppg last year.

On the other hand, his most efficient season might have been his freshman season, when he averaged 4.1 assists to 2.0 turnovers per game. Since then, his assist numbers have dropped while his turnover rate has crept up. Meanwhile, after shooting 38.1 percent from three as a freshman, over the last two seasons he’s made 15 threes on 74 attempts.

Obviously, shooting around 20 percent from three-point range is not good. But there’s an obvious caveat here: Manjon was his team’s first offensive option, on a team that didn’t really have that many guys that opposing defenses needed to worry about. Last season, he took 30.6 percent of his team’s shots when he was on the floor; for reference, Scotty Pippen Jr. took 32.8 percent of Vanderbilt’s shots when he was on the floor last season. Manjon probably won’t be asked to do that for Vanderbilt, and his 78.2 percent career free throw shooting suggests that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with his shot; he was probably just taking a ton of shots for a bad team because somebody had to.

That opens up the question of what exactly Vanderbilt is going to get out of him, and really, that depends on who else emerges to carry the scoring load for Vanderbilt. Jordan Wright is one option; another is Liam Robbins if he can regain the form he showed at Minnesota in 2020-21. Is Manjon a viable SEC point guard if he’s the third or fourth scoring option at Vanderbilt? We can be pretty sure he’s not Scotty Pippen or Saben Lee, but Vanderbilt might just need him to be Alex Gordon.