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Vanderbilt Basketball Player Report Card: Paul Lewis

A spring signee who showed promise as a freshman.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament Quarterfinals - Kentucky vs Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Something I noted about Vanderbilt’s roster in the preseason was that while the team had five freshmen, none of them would be asked to do too much right away if they weren’t ready to. In some cases, that didn’t really pan out — see: the two freshmen who transferred out after a year, or Lee Dort, who showed occasional flashes before getting hurt — but this ended up working well for Paul Lewis.

Lewis was a late signee, a former Maryland commit who decommitted from the Terps in the summer of 2021, then got scooped up by Jerry Stackhouse in the spring. Lewis was never expected to be anything more than Ezra Manjon’s backup, and that was what he was — which allowed him to work his way into the rotation at his own speed. He got an early look in the first three games of the season, then played 21 minutes in two months. Nothing to see here, really.

Then, out of nowhere, he drew a start at Georgia, and scored six points in a Vanderbilt win. He had his first double-figure scoring game three games later — though, granted, he was the only Vanderbilt player to score in double figures, that being the disaster at Alabama. He didn’t play a ton down the stretch, though he did appear in each of the team’s final 15 games and averaged close to 9 minutes a game — and scored a season-high 11 points in 11 minutes against LSU in the SEC Tournament.

Really, this was what you wanted out of a freshman who wasn’t on anyone’s radar. There’s enough promise with Lewis that it’s clearly good news that he’ll be back for his sophomore season; but Vanderbilt was able to hide most of the growing pains behind Ezra Manjon. This looks like a solid pickup.

Grade: B-