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Vanderbilt Basketball Player Preview: Paul Lewis

Could the unheralded freshman make an impact?

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament- Alabama vs Vanderbilt Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Normally, I would do my player preview series in reverse order of projected playing time — but this season, I don’t have a great handle on a roster that has seven newcomers, five of them freshmen, and I probably won’t until... well, until I finish this. So here we go: the freshmen are first, followed by the transfers, and then the returnees.

We’ll start with Paul Lewis, the last addition to the freshman class. Lewis came on an official visit in April, picked up an offer, and pretty much committed on the spot — and let’s just say that his recruitment was weird going off his 247 Sports page. After his sophomore year, Lewis picked up offers from Maryland, Georgetown, and Louisville, committed to Maryland in September 2020 — then decommitted in June 2021. And then his recruitment went quiet until Jerry Stackhouse picked him up late. His rankings history suggests he was a four-star recruit as a sophomore; coming in to Vanderbilt, he’s ranked as the #248 player in the class.

I don’t know what to make of all this, but this article refers to his decommitment as “mutually parting ways.” On film, he looks like he has a quick first step, if he also looks a bit undersized at 6’2” and 170 (and that 170 appears to be generous.)

Overall, I don’t have a ton of expectations here, at least as a freshman. Lewis’s path to playing time stems from the fact that he’s one of probably two “true” point guards on the roster. That doesn’t mean he’ll play for sure — after all, Vanderbilt could use fellow freshman Noah Shelby or returnee Trey Thomas in a pinch if they just need minutes behind Ezra Manjon — but you can see how he works his way into the rotation. You can also see where he might be one of the last guys on the bench. I don’t remember hearing much about him during the trip to Europe, which isn’t a great sign.