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Vanderbilt Basketball Player Preview: Tyrin Lawrence

Lawrence is the presumptive starter at the two, but can he keep it?

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard for me to figure out what to think about Tyrin Lawrence, because I have to separate the theoretical from the reality.

In theory, Lawrence is an ideal player: at 6’4”, he has the length and quickness to be a lockdown defender, and he should be a pretty good offensive player. In reality, while he’s not a bad defender (and is definitely better at that than Trey Thomas), his defense isn’t what I would call “lockdown” — his 99.4 defensive rating is basically average, and it was worse than Vanderbilt’s overall defense.

And offense, well... that was a problem last season.

Actually, inside the arc, it was fine: he shot 55.9 percent on two-point attempts, which is good for a guard. He also attempted 49 threes and made ten of them. Making 20 percent of your threes is very bad. And in SEC play, Lawrence became a turnover machine, too, leading to a brutal 71.3 Offensive Rating.

Since Lawrence is the presumptive starter at the second guard spot, though, he becomes one of the biggest question marks on the team — because he has to be better than this. Vanderbilt does have other options here, obviously — Trey Thomas can play and can at least be a competent offensive player, even if he creates problems for Vanderbilt on the defensive end (problems that actually get magnified if he’s playing alongside the similarly undersized Ezra Manjon, by the way), and Noah Shelby, if he’s ready to play, could force his way into the starting lineup. But as of right now it seems like the best option here is “play Tyrin Lawrence and hope for the best.”