Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tinsley commits to Vandy

The Vanderbilt men's basketball team received great news tonight when 6'3'' guard Brad Tinsley verbally committed to Commodores, according to the great Brett Hait of The Nashville City Paper.

Tinsley, ranked by as the nation's 16th-best senior point guard, chose Vanderbilt over Wake Forest. He is the fourth member of the Dores' 2008 recruiting class, joining swingman Jeff Taylor, Steve Tchiengang and Lance Goulbourne, each of whom is ranked among the nation's top 150 senior prospects by ESPN.

Vanderbilt will most certainly have a top-25 recruiting class after this signing. Tinsley has the ability to play both guard positions and could possibly start alongside Jermaine Beal in the backcourt.

Check back here this weekend, as well as The City Paper, for more coverage. Thanks to Brett for breaking this story.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Goin to the Derby...

We're headed to Louisville for a slice of Americana, so should be a quiet weekend as far as posts. This is definitely the place to be this weekend though, as it seems like just about everyone had the same idea we did. After standing in line with Randy Moss to check into my hotel this afternoon, I'm already excited for what the weekend will bring, and how much money we will likely lose tomorrow with these picks:

Jarred - Z Fortune (currently 15:1)
Greg - Colonel John (currently 4:1)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Expectations of Freshmen Unreasonable

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Augustus Gilchrist. No? How about Demetri McCamey, still nobody? Alexis Wangmene? For those of you not related to the three aforementioned players, they are the ones that occupied the spots in last years recruiting rankings that are currently held by future Commodores Jeff Taylor, Lance Goulbourne, and Steve Tchiengang.

If you think that’s just cherry-picking the rankings and that randomly those spots were occupied by underachievers consider this: of the players ranked from 50-150 on, 10 contributed to tournament teams and one of those enrolled a year early (Daniel Hackett). Of the ten, only two were featured players, DeJuan Blair and Robbie Hummel.

The point is expectations must be lowered. Many of the posts and comments on this site have made it seem like these guys are going to step in right away and replace a good amount of the points lost by the graduations of Shan Foster, Alex Gordon, and Ross Neltner. That’s just not going to happen. Freshmen who aren’t top recruits very rarely come in and immediately put up big numbers on good teams. Given time they may develop into front line players, just a quick glance at the 2005 Rivals 150 shows future 1st round picks such as Chris Douglas-Roberts and Darren Collison ranked 75th or lower, but even guys like that did not produce as freshman, combined they averaged less than 14 points.

So, yes, Taylor might go off for 31 in one game like McCamey somehow did against Indiana, but expecting these three to be consistent producers is unreasonable and unfair. If this year’s team is going to go dancing it is more likely to be because of the improvements made by Andre Walker and Darshawn McClellan than by big contributions from the trio of heralded freshmen.

There’s still reason to be excited about Stallings’ best recruiting class since arriving in Nashville, they will most likely lead the Commodores to another Sweet 16, but chances are it won’t be in 2009.

Taylor makes it official

Forward Jeff Taylor made it official Wednesday, signing his National Letter of Intent to play basketball for Vanderbilt beginning this fall.

"We are extremely excited to add Jeffery Taylor to our program," said coach Kevin Stallings in a statement on the school's website. "He is an outstanding young man who comes from a great family. He had an excellent senior season and led his team to a state championship. Jeffery is a versatile player with great athleticism and I am anxious for him to join Lance Goulbourne and Steve Tchiengang in our incoming freshmen class."

Taylor is ranked No. 52 in the Class of 2008, according to The 6'7 forward from Norrkoping, Sweden, averaged 30 points per game while leading Hobbs (N.M.) High School to the 5A state championship.

Taylor joins Steve Tchiengang and Lance Goulbourne in the 2008 Commodore signing class. Both Tchiengang (87) and Goulbourne (72) are also ranked in the top 100 in the Recruiting Class of 2008. He chose Vanderbilt over Texas, and had also considered Gonzaga, UNLV and Nebraska.

"Let's face it, if you toe the line with Texas for a player, you're swinging in the right neighborhood," Dave Telep, national basketball recruiting analyst for, told the Nashville City Paper. "I've said it before: Coach [Kevin] Stallings and his staff are amongst the tops in the nation at targeting, locking in and adding players that fit their profile and style. This is a strong addition."

Vanderbilt hopes to add one more player to its already strong recruting class. Guard Brad Tinsley (No. 94) will decide between Vanderbilt and Wake Forest, which he visited last weekend.

"It was a lot of the same kind of thing (as Vanderbilt)," he told "I ate a lot, played with the guys and got a chance to see what the coaches had to offer. It was hard to get that all in just two days and it was a lot of information, but we pulled it all in.

"With Vanderbilt and Wake Forest, both have beautiful campuses and the academics at both schools are up there, too. Both head coaches are great guys and down to earth guys, too. Both teams have great guys and I really connected with the players and I seem to fit in with both schools too. Both styles of play both fit me."

Three members of the Vanderbilt coaching staff went to visit Tinsley this week, but the guard said he still needs more time to make a decision, according to a source close to the program.

Without Tinsley, here's a breakdown of Vanderbilt's 2008-09 roster:

Jermaine Beal (JR)
Jamie Graham (SO)
Analysis: With Alex Gordon graduating, Keegan Bell off to UT-Chattanooga and Graham expected to make significant contributions on the gridiron, the Commodores could potentially start the season with just one true point guard in Beal, making Brad Tinsley's decision that much more important. While Beal should be one of the premier point guards in the SEC, Vandy will be in trouble without a true back-up.

George Drake (Redshirt JR)
Charles Hinkle (Redshirt FR)
Jordan Smart (FR walk-on)
Elliott Cole (SO walk-on)
Analysis: Wing production is going to be the hardest for the Commodores to replace. Without Gordon and SEC Player of the Year Shan Foster, Vandy will need contributions from Drake and Hinkle. In addition, coach Kevin Stallings will have the option of "going big" by playing either Walker or Goulbourne at the 2. If Tinsley signs, he and Beal could play alongside one another in the backcourt, as well.

Andre Walker (SO)
Lance Goulbourne (FR)
Analysis: I expcect Walker to make "the leap" in year two. He showed flashes as a freshman and with a year of experience under his belt, Walker should be more confident and assertive. The swingman has all the tools to be a solid SEC player and he'll definitely be given the opportunity to prove it next season. Goulbourne, meanwhile, projects as a prototypical small forward, and should thrive in transition.

Darshawn McClellan (SO)
Steve Tchiengang (FR)
Joe Duffy (SO walk-on)
Analysis: McClellan may never be a star, but he's the type of player that every team needs. Without Ross Neltner, McClellan should have an expanded role next season. It's hard to predict how much Tchiengang will be able to contribute right away, but I'd imagine 15-20 minutes per game isn't out of the question.

A.J. Ogilvy (SO)
Festus Ezeli (Redshirt FR)
Analysis: The Commodores will need Ogilvy to dominate in year two as the offense will unquestionably go through him. If Ogilvy can pass well out of the double teams that he is sure to draw, it will make Vandy that much more difficult to defend. Ezeli, meanwhile, could be the X-factor. Players said that he was an absolute monster of the defensive end in practice and while he is still limited offensively, there's no question that Ezeli will be able to contribute next season. How much is yet to be determined.

Potential line-ups

PG Beal
SG Drake
SF Walker
PF McClellan
C Ogilvy

PG Beal
SG Walker
SF Taylor
PF Ogilvy
C Ezeli

PG Beal
SG Goulbourne
SF Taylor
PF Tchiengang
C Ogilvy

PG Beal
SG Drake/Walker/Hinkle
SF Taylor/Walker/Goulbourne
PF McClellan/Tchiengang
C Ogilvy/Ezeli

A few thoughts:
  • The Commodores could be very crowded on the wing with Drake, Hinkle, Taylor, Walker and Goulbourne essentially fighting for time at two positions. With that said, Walker and Taylor could be versatile enough to play the 4 if Vandy decides to go small.
  • There shouldn't be much of a difference between the 2 and the 3 as both will be wing players.
  • Beal and Ogilvy should be prepared to play 30-35 minutes per game.
  • I'd imagine that this squad will play a lot of zone with so many long and athletic (and young) players.
  • I don't know how well they'd play together, but that "big" lineup could be fun to watch.
  • Young teams tend to struggle in the halfcourt, which means Vandy will need to excel in transition to have success.
  • The Commodores desperately need a back-up point guard, especially since Jamie Graham will not be able to join until after the football season. (That means you, Mr. Tinsley).

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Let's just say Buzz Bissinger is a little upset about sports blogs

So the obscene amount of work required for my final in 20th century American novel tomorrow morning seems a little more pressing now, but I would be remiss if I did not at least bring up what happened last night Costas Now.

In what was supposed to be a town hall discussion between sports blogger Will Leitch (of, author and journalist Buzz Bissinger (of Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August), and Braylon Edwards (who likely still can't figure out why he was there...), things quickly got out of hand. I don't know if any of you have read this surprisingly poignant description of why we like sports, but let's just say Bissinger was "into it".

I won't try and do too much here, because I think Awful Announcing, Deadspin, or my personal favorite, Fire Joe Morgan, can do a much better job of putting this whole thing into perspective than I can. However, as a 21 year old who simply loves reading about sports, why this all has to be such a big deal. More than anything, what I took away from watching that video clip was that Buzz Bissinger looks like a man that is scared he's becoming irrelevant, and reacting against it in a pretty immature way. I don't completely blame him for the way he feels, but I think it's pretty sad that a guy who has shown such an uncanny ability for "getting it" when it comes to power of sports is so painfully unable to do the same when it comes to sports blogs.

2008-09 SEC Basketball Preview

Less than a month has passed since Kansas beat Memphis in the national title game, but I couldn't help but take a look at the 2008-09 season. The deadline has passed for underclassmen to declare for the NBA Draft (although they have until June 16 to withdraw), which means we have a pretty good idea of who's staying and going.

In previewing the Southeastern Conference, it seems as though the East is once again more talented than the West with Tennessee and Florida as the clear favorites. Vanderbilt and Kentucky lose a lot, but both welcome talented freshman classes that make it that much harder to project how they'll finish.

With that said, here's an early look at the SEC. Disagree with my picks? As always, feel free to leave comments below.

Eastern Division

2007-08 Record: (31-5, 14-2 SEC)

Key losses
Chris Lofton (15.5 points, 3.2 rebounds)
JaJuan Smith (14.4 points, 3.7 rebounds)
Jordan Howell (4.3 points, 2.2 assists)
Tyler Smith (13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists)
J.P. Prince (8.0 points, 3.2 rebounds)
Wayne Chism (9.9 points, 5.8 rebounds)
Duke Crews (5.4 points, 4.0 rebounds)
Ramar Smith (7.4 points, 3.2 assists)
Coming in
Cameron Tatum (Redshirt freshman)
Scotty Hopson, SF (5-Star)
Renaldo Woolridge, SF (4-Star)
Philip Jurick, C (4-Star)

Season Outlook: The Vols got great news when Tyler Smith decided to return for his junior season. All-American Scotty Hopson is going to make people forget about Chris Lofton. UT also welcomes back Cameron Tatum, the big signee from '07, who was injured last season. In addition, the entire roster is finally full of Bruce Pearl's recruits, which means they should be bigger and more athletic. A Final Four is not out of reach for this squad, although the point guard position is once again in question.

2007-08 Record: (24-12, 8-8 SEC)

Key losses
Jonathan Mitchell (Transfer)
Nick Calathes, Fr. G/F (15.3 points, 6.1 assists, 5.2 rebounds)
Walter Hodge, Jr. G (10.4 points, 2.9 assists)
Jai Lucas, Fr. G (8.5 points, 2.3 assists)
Dan Werner, So. F (9.1 points, 6.4 rebounds)
Chandler Parsons, Fr. F (8.1 points, 4 rebounds)
Alex Tyus, Fr. F (4.3 points, 2.6 rebounds)
Marresse Speights, So. F (14.5 points, 8.1 rebounds)
Coming in
Kenny Kadji, C (5-Star)
Ray Shipman, SF (4-Star)
Allan Chaney, PF (4-Star)
Eloy Vargas, PF (4-Star)
Erving Walker, PG (3-Star)

Season Outlook: The Gators were extremely young in 2007 and still won 24 games (advancing to the NIT Final Four). Speights has declared for the NBA Draft, but has not hired an agent. If he returns, the Gators will challenge the Vols for the SEC East crown. Without him, Billy Donovan's squad still very well could as they bring virtually everyone else back. Calathes is a SEC Player of the Year candidate and UF welcomes three talented big men in Kadji, Vargas and Chaney. While Noah, Brewer and Horford aren't walking through that door, a Sweet 16 run is likely for the Gators.

2007-08 Record: (26-8, 10-6 SEC)
Key losses
Shan Foster (20.3 points, 4.9 rebounds)
Alex Gordon (10.8 points, 3.1 assists)
Ross Neltner (8.3 points, 5.6 rebounds)
Alan Metcalfe (5.3 points, 2.3 rebounds)
Jermaine Beal (7.6 points, 4.6 assists)
A.J. Ogilvy (17 points, 6.7 rebounds)
Andre Walker (2.4 points, 2.0 rebounds)
Darshawn McClellan (2.7 points, 3.0 rebounds)
Jamie Graham (Football player/defensive specialist)
Brad Tinsley
Coming in
Festus Ezeli, C (Redshirt)
Charles Hinkle, SG (Redshirt)
Lance Goulbourne, F (4-Star)
Steve Tchiengang, F (4-Star)
Jeff Taylor, SF (4-Star)
Jordan Smart, SG (Preferred walk-on)

Season Outlook: The Commodores are one of the toughest teams to project. They're losing a lot, most notably SEC Player of the Year Shan Foster, but return Jermaine Beal and A.J. Ogilvy and welcome what is perhaps the best recruiting class in Kevin Stallings' tenure. Adding Jeff Taylor last week was huge and they could still sign Brad Tinsley, who is deciding between VU and Wake Forest. You also can't forget about the raw, but extremely athletic center Festus Ezeli, who redshirted this season. Ultimately, there are too many unknowns to place any expectations on the Commodores. I would imagine that they struggle somewhat early, but get much better as the year goes on and have a chance to qualify for the Big Dance. With no seniors on the roster, however, watch out for Vandy in 09-10.

2007-08 Record: (18-13, 12-4 SEC)

Key losses
Ramel Bradley, G (15.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists)
Joe Crawford, G (17.9 points, 3.6 rebounds)
Jodie Meeks, So. F (8.8 points, 2.6 rebounds)
Patrick Patterson, Fr. F (16.4 points, 7.7 rebounds)
Perry Stevenson (5.9 points, 5.1 rebounds)
Ramon Harris, (4.2 points, 3.5 rebounds)
Derrick Jasper, So. G
Coming in
DeAndre Liggins, SF (5-Star)
Darius Miller, SF (4-Star)
Kevin Galloway, SF (4-Star, JUCO)

Season Outlook: Billy Gillespie said he expects to be "a much more fast-paced team" next season. Whether that means better is yet to be determined. While their relationship was rocky at first, Gillespie grew to love Bradley and Crawford, who averaged 34 points between them. It's not going to be easy to replace their production, which is why the Wildcats will need oft-injured Jodie Meeks to return to his freshman-year form. Kentucky also has a lot of unknowns. Jasper is homesick and considering transferring to a school on the West Coast, while Patterson (stress fracture in his left ankle) will be out four to six months. Like Vandy, the Wildcats will be asking a lot of their talented freshman class, which includes Kentucky's "Mr. Basketball" and the next Scottie Pippen. If Patterson is healthy, expect the Wildcats to be in the Big Dance once again.

2007-08 Record: (24-12, 8-8 SEC)

Key losses
Sundiata Gaines, G (14.8 points, 6 rebounds, 4.2 assists)
Dave Bliss, C (7.6 points, 5.6 rebounds)
Billy Humphrey, Jr. G (12.2 points, 3.5 rebounds)
Terrance Woodbury, Jr. G/F (11 points, 4.1 rebounds)
Jeremy Price, Fr. F (8.1 points, 4.4 rebounds)
Albert Jackson, So. F/C (3.7 points, 4.3 rebounds)
Coming in
Trey Thompkins, PF (4-Star)
Travis Leslie, SF (4-Star)
Drazen Zlovaroc, SF (3-Star)
Dustin Ware, PG (3-Star)
Ebuka Anyaorah, SG

Season Outlook: The Bulldogs may have won the SEC Tournament, thus earning a trip to the Big Dance, but don't let that Cinderella finish fool you. They are a decent team that's losing its best player in Sundiata Gaines. While the recruiting class is strong, it's going to be a long time before the Bulldogs "can literally dominate the nation and win championships with just Georgia players," no matter what disillusioned coach Dennis Felton likes to believe.

2007-08 Record: (14-18, 5-11 SEC)

Key losses
Dwayne Day (5.1 points, 3.7 rebounds)
Devan Downey, So. G (18.4 points, 5.4 assists)
Zam Fredrick, Jr. G (14.8 points, 3.2 assists)
Dominique Archie, So. F (10.6 points, 5.7 rebounds)
Evaldas Baniulus, So. F (5.4 points, 2.2 rebounds)
Mike Holmes, Fr. F/C (8.5 points, 5.7 rebounds)
Coming in
Darius Morrow, C (3-Star)

Season Outlook: No much to say here, other than I think that new coach Darrin Horn should hire Ty Rodgers as an assistant, or at least give him a portion of the five-year contract worth $800,000 annually that he just signed. Had Rodgers not hit the shot of the lifetime to lift Western Kentucky past Drake, Horn wouldn't have gone anywhere, which shows how much stock (foolishly?) teams place on NCAA Tournament results. As for the team Horn takes over? They don't lose or gain much, which means they should be just as bad (OK, maybe a couple of wins better).

SEC Western Division

2007-08 Record: (24-11, 7-9 SEC)

Key losses
Dwayne Curtis (14.9 points, 9.6 rebounds)
Kenny Williams (8.5 points, 6.6 rebounds)
Chris Warren, Fr. G (15.8 points, 4.5 assists)
Eniel Polynice, So. G (10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds)
David Huertas, So. G (10.7 points, 3.7 rebounds)
Trevor Gaskins, Jr. G (5.9 points, 1.5 rebounds)
Zach Graham, Fr. G (5.9 points, 2.7 rebounds)
Coming in
DeAundre Cranston, F (JUCO)
Murphy Holloway, SF (4-Star)
Terrance Henry, PF (4-Star)
Three 3-star recruits

Season Outlook: Andy Kennedy, the SEC's most underrated coach, has to like his squad's chances. Point guard Chris Warren is only going to get better, and the same could be said for the Rebels' supporting cast, which includes Polynice and Huertas. Ole Miss will be thin in the frontcourt without Curtis, Williams and Jermey Parnell, although Cranston, Henry, a top-100 recruit, and the super-talented Holloway should help. Kennedy's teams always seem to be better than the sum of their parts and I expect next year to be no different.

2007-08 Record: (17-16, 5-11 SEC)

Key losses
Mykal Riley, F (14.9 points, 5.2 rebounds)
Rico Pickett, Fr. G (Transfer)
Alonzo Gee, Jr. G (14.5 points, 6.8 rebounds)
Brandon Hollinger, Jr. G (6.3 points, 3.2 assists)
Demetrius Jemison, So. F (5.6 points, 5.3 rebounds)
Richard Hendrix, F (17.8 points, 10.1 rebounds)
Ronald Steele, PG (Injured)
Coming in
Anthony Brock, PG (JC All-American)
JaMychal Green, F (5-Star)
Andrew Steele, PG (4-Star)
Tony Mitchell, SF (4-Star)

Season Outlook: I'm high on the Crimson Tide as long as it Hendrix and Steele realize they're not first-round picks and return for their senior seasons. JUCO point guard Anthony Brock is a nice addition and McDonald's All-American JaMychal Green should be an absolute stud. I know that Alabama has underachieved in the past, but in the wide-open West where every team has question marks, the talented Tide have as good a shot as any.

3. LSU
2007-08 Record: (13-18, 6-10 SEC)

Key losses
Anthony Randolph (15.6 points, 8.5 rebounds)
Marcus Thornton, Jr. G (19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds)
Tasmin Mitchell, Jr. F (Injured)
Garrett Temple, Jr. G (6.4 points, 4.2 rebounds)
Chris Johnson, Jr. C (11.6 points, 6.6 rebounds)
Terry Martin, Jr. G (8.3 points, 2.5 rebounds)
Coming in
J'Mison Morgan, C (4-Star)
Delwan Graham, PF (4-Star)
Storm Warren, PF (3-Star)

Season Outlook: Randolph is off to the NBA and for good reason (he's a projected lottery pick), but had he stayed, the Tigers would have been a team to watch out for. New coach Trent Johnson (a great hire for LSU) will rely heavily on leading scorer Marcus Thornton and center Chris Johnson. The Tigers also expect Tasmin Mitchell, a 2007 preseason second-team All-SEC selection, to return to form after missing all but three games with an ankle injury.

2007-08 Record: (23-11, 12-4 SEC)

Key losses
Charles Rhodes (17.4 points, 7.8 rebounds)
Ben Hansbrough (10.5 points, 3.8 rebounds)
Jarvis Varnado, So. C (7.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.6 blocks)
Barry Stewart, So. G (11.5 points, 4.6 rebounds)
Jamont Gordon, Jr. G/F (17.2 points, 6.6 rebounds)
Coming in
Romero Osby, PF (4-Star)
Dee Bost, SG (4-Star)
Twany Beckham, SG (3-Star)

Season Outlook: I've got the Bulldogs here under the assumption that Jamont Gordon does not return for his senior season. Judging from this story, I think that's a fair assumption. Mississippi State was not a very deep team to begin with, and without Gordon, Rhodes and Hansbrough (who transferred to Notre Dame), it returns just two starters in Stewart and Vernado, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. While Bost and Osby are both 4-star recruits, it will be tough for the Bulldogs to get back to the NCAA Tournament without Gordon.

2007-08 Record: (23-12, 9-7 SEC)

Key losses
Gary Ervin, G (9.5 points, 3.8 assists)
Sonny Weems, G/F (15 points, 4.5 rebounds)
Darian Townes, F (12.1 points, 5.5 rebounds)
Charles Thomas, F (9.2 points, 4.5 rebounds)
Steven Hill, C (4.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks)
Patrick Beverley, So. G (12.1 points, 6.6 rebounds)
Stefan Welsh, So. G (5.3 points, 1.9 assists)
Michael Washington, So. F (4.3 points, 3.9 rebounds)
Coming in
Rotnei Clarke, PG (4-Star)
Jason Henry, SF (4-Star)
Four 3-star recruits

Season Outlook: For the past two seasons, the Razorbacks failed to live up to their potential. Now, they're losing five talented seniors, most notably the high-flying Sonny Weems. Beverley is fun to watch, but there's going to be too much riding on his shoulders. While John Pelphrey's first recruiting class includes two 4-star recruits, expect the Razorbacks to take a step backward this season.

2007-08 Record: (14-16, 4-12 SEC)

Key losses
Frank Tolbert, G (13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds)
Quan Prowell, F (15 points, 6.3 rebounds)
Rasheem Barrett, Jr. G (13.6 points, 4 rebounds)
Quantez Robertson, Jr. G (7.8 points, 5 rebounds, 4.1 assists)
Korvotney Barber, Jr. F (13.8 points, 6.9 rebounds)
DeWayne Reed, So. G (8.9 points, 3.7 assists)
Lucas Hargrove, So. F (7.8 points, 4.4 rebounds)
Coming in
Four 3-star recruits

Season Outlook: The Tigers lose two key contributors from a squad that wasn't very good to begin with. Couple that with the fact that they've signed a mediocre recruiting class and you've got a team that doesn't have much to look forward to.

Video of the Day: Scott Van Pelt does a field sobriety test

Thanks to Awful Announcing for this one, featuring Scott Van Pelt of Sportscenter while reporting the No. 1 play of the day from a minor league baseball game between Long Island and Quinnipiac. The catch the Quinnipiac outfielder made is impressive enough, but Scott Van Pelt has a hilarious comment about his friends who came over to congratulate him.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Commodore Banter (4/29)

Check out this must-read story about the Chicago Bears' first-round draft pick, Chris Williams. We've said it before, but you don't get much better than Williams, on or off the field.

Williams and wide receiver Earl Bennett are excited to be teammates once again.

The men's and women's tennis teams will learn their postseason plans today. Check back for an update.

Harold Huggins of the City Paper wrote a nice piece on Ryan Preston whose phenomenal tennis career is coming to a close.

UTC seems pretty happy to get Keegan Bell, a "great young man," who is a "high-major talent..."

Joe Loftus, a Vandy baseball committ, is drawing plenty of interest from pro scouts.

In case you missed our...
Q&A's with Keegan Bell, Jamont Gordon, Caleb Cotham, Curt Casali, Merideth Marsh,Jonathan White, Christina Wirth, Shea Robin, Vijay Paul, Ryan Preston,Keegan Bell, Nick Cromydas, Derek Johnson, Nick Christiani, Tim Corbin,David Macias, Lance Goulbourne

NFL Draft Coverage
NBA Draft Coverage

Three Dores sign as free agents

While every player dreams of getting drafted, it actually benefits them to go undrafted as opposed to getting picked in the sixth or seventh round. Now, they'll get to sign as free agents with teams that they may actually have a chance to stick around with.

So far three Dores have found new homes and others, including Gabe Hall, Brian Stamper and Josh Eames, are currently in discussions with teams.
  • Defensive tackle Theo Horrocks signed with the Jacksonvile Jaguars.
  • Curtis Gatewood signed with the Washington Redskins, where he will play outside linebacker.
  • Outside linebacker Marcus Buggs was picked up by the Buffalo Bills.

Check out Brett Hait's story in The Nashville City Paper about Buggs and Gatewood. Both players deserve a shot in the NFL and we wouldn't be surprised to see either of them stick around with their respective teams.

SEC continues NFL Draft dominance

In total, 35 Southeastern Conference players were taken in the 2008 NFL Draft, including four of the first 10 picks. Vanderbilt saw three players drafted, which was more than Alabama, Florida, Miss. State, Ole Miss and South Carolina, and as many as Tennessee.

While this shows that the Commodores are clearly more talented than they have been in the past and that they have a coaching staff that knows how to develop players, it also leads us to ask the question: how have they not gone to a bowl game in any of the past three seasons?

But, that's a question for another day...As far as the SEC goes, it once again led all conferences in drafted players with 35. The Pac-10 was second with 34, the ACC had 33, Big 10 28 and Big 12 27.

Here's the SEC breakdown:

Alabama: 0

Arkansas: 6
Darren McFadden, RB (Round 1, Oakland)
Felix Jones, RB (Round 1, Dallas)
Marcus Harrison, DT (Round 3, Chicago)
Marcus Monk, WR (Round 7, Chicago)
Peyton Hills, FB (Round 7, Denver)
Nate Garner, OT (Round 7, NY Jets)

Auburn: 5
Quentin Groves, DE (Round 2, Jacksonville)
Patrick Lee, CB (Round 2, Green Bay)
Pat Sims, DT (Round 3, Cincinnati)
Jonathan Wilhite, CB (Round 4, New England)
King Dunlap, OT (Round 7, Philadelphia)

Florida: 2
Derrick Harvery, DE (Round 1, Jacksonville)
Andre Caldwell, WR (Round 3, Cincinnati)

Georgia: 4
Marcus Howard, OLB (Round 5, Indianapolis)
Thomas Brown, RB (Round 6, Atlanta)
Chester Adams, OG (Round 7, Chicago)
Brandon Coutu, K (Round 7, Seattle)

Kentucky: 4
Jacob Tamme, TE (Round 4, Indianapolis)
Keenan Burton, WR (Round 4, St. Louis)
Andre' Woodson, QB (Round 6, NY Giants)
Steve Johnson, WR (Round 7, Buffalo)

LSU: 7
Glenn Dorsey, DT (Round 1, Kansas City)
Chevis Jackson, CB (Round 3, Atlanta)
Jacob Hester, FB (Round 3, San Diego)
Early Doucet, WR (Round 3, Arizona)
Craig Steltz, S (Round 4, Chicago)
Matt Flynn, QB (Round 7, Green Bay)
Keith Zinger, TE (Round 7, Atlanta)

Mississippi State: 0

Ole Miss: 0

South Carolina:1
Cory Boyd, RB (Round 7, Tampa Bay)

Tennessee: 3
Jerod Mayo, LB (Round 1, New England)
Brad Cottam, TE (Round 3, Kansas City)
Erik Ainge, QB (Round 5, NY Jets)

Vanderbilt: 3
Chris Williams, OT (Round 1, Chicago)
Earl Bennett, WR (Round 3, Chicago)
Jonathan Goff, LB (Round 5, NY Giants)

UPDATE: NBA Draft Countdown: Who's In/Who's Out

With the NBA Draft coming up in June, here's a look at the underclassmen who declared by the April 27 deadline. Now, players who have not hired an agent have until June 16 to withdraw.

A few thoughts:
  • With the NBA age requirement, there are now even more talented underclassmen, which makes it harder for seniors (like Shan Foster) to get drafted.
  • Unless they're a lock for the first round, it'd be wise for underclassmen to consider sticking around for another year. A lot of the players you see on the "In for now" list will end up coming back.
  • For those of you think it would be wise for players to stay in school, read this column and this one. I bet you'll think differently afterwards.
  • ESPN's Chad Ford talks to scouts and executives to get a read on where prospects may land in the draft. You can check it out here.
In for good (15)
Jerryd Bayless, Arizona (FR)
Michael Beasley, Kansas State (FR)
Chase Budinger, Arizona (SO)
Derrick Caracter, Louisville (SO)
Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis (JR)
Eric Gordon, Indiana (FR)
Brook Lopez, Stanford (SO)
Robin Lopez, Stanford (SO)
Kevin Love, UCLA (FR)
O.J. Mayo, USC (FR)
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA (JR)
JaVale McGee, Nevada (SO)
Anthony Randolph, LSU (FR)
Derrick Rose, Memphis (FR)
Brandon Rush, Kansas (JR)

In for now (32)
AJ Abrams, Texas (JR)
Antonio Anderson, Memphis (JR)
D.J. Augustin, Texas (SO)
Joe Alexander, West Virginia (JR)
Ryan Anderson, California (SO)
Darrell Arthur, Kansas (SO)
Josh Carter, Texas A&M (JR)
DeMarre Carroll, Missouri (JR)
Robert Dozier, Memphis (JR)
Mario Chalmers, Kansas (JR)
Wayne Ellington, UNC (SO)
Jamont Gordon, Mississippi State (JR)
Danny Green, UNC (JR)
Donte Green, Syracuse (FR)
Richard Hendrix, Alabama (JR)
J.J. Hickson, N.C. State (FR)
Lester Hudson, UT-Martin (JR)
Shawn James, Duquesne (JR)
Davon Jefferson, USC (FR)
DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M (FR)
Kosta Koufus, Ohio State (FR)
Ty Lawson, UNC (SO)
Jerel McNeal, Marquette (JR)
Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga (JR)
Trent Plaisted, BYU (JR)
Josh Shipp, UCLA (JR)
Marresse Speights, Florida (SO)
Ronald Steele, Alabama (JR)
Robert Vaden, UAB (JR)
Lorenzo Wade, SDSU (JR)
Bill Walker, Kansas State (FR)
Russell Westbrook, UCLA (SO)

Back for another year (Notables)
Earl Clark, Louisville (SO)
Darren Collison, ULCA (SO)
Steph Curry, Davidson (SO)
Taj Gibson, USC (SO)
Blake Griffin, Oklahoma (FR)
Tyler Hansbrough, UNC (JR)
James Harden, Arizona State (FR)
Eric Maynor, VCU (JR)
AJ Ogilvy, Vanderbilt (FR)
Jeff Pendergraph, ASU (JR)
Tyresse Rice, Boston College (JR)
Tyler Smith, Tennessee (SO)
Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut (SO)
Terrence Williams, Louisville (JR)
Sam Young, Pittsburgh (JR)
Note: I should have a 2008-09 SEC Preview up later this week.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Keegan Bell transfers to UTC

Freshman point guard Keegan Bell, who surprised the Vanderbilt community a month ago by announcing he would be transferring after the semester was over, has decided to play at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga of the Southern Conference. Bell will be eligible to play again in the 2009-2010 season.

According to the Nashville City Paper, Bell also considered Butler, Oregon State, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

This isn't the first time UTC has claimed a Southeastern Conference guard. Stephen McDowell, who played in a limited backup role at South Carolina his first two seasons, transferred to UTC two years ago and led the team in scoring with 14.3 points per game this season in his first year of play in the Southern Conference.

The starting five for the Mocs consisted of all juniors and seniors this past season, meaning Bell could play a major role on this team in just his second year of eligibility once the 09-10 season rolls around with everyone graduating. In the meantime, Bell stated he wants to work on all aspects of his game, including becoming a more well-rounded scorer rather than just a 3-point shooter.

Bell averaged 2.7 points, 2.8 assists and 1.2 rebounds in his freshman year at Vanderbilt, playing in every game in a backup role to Jermaine Beal. His reasons for leaving mainly concerned philosophical differences with coach Kevin Stallings about his role on the team.

To read his interview about his decision to leave Vanderbilt, click here.

We wish Keegan the best of luck and congratulate him on his new school.

A look back at the 2008 NFL Draft

All in all, it was a successful weekend for the Vanderbilt football progam as three former Commodores were drafted, the most in seven years. Offensive tackle Chris Williams (No. 14 overall) and wide receiver Earl Bennett (No. 70) find themselves in great situations in Chicago, while the New York Giants got a steal in the fifth round when they drafted linebacker Jonathan Goff.

Note that coaches and GMs could not say enough about the character and intellgience of all three of these guys, which is a credit to Bobby Johnson and the rest of the VU coaching staff.

In addition, The Nashville City Paper reports that defensive tackle Theo Horrocks has signed a free-agent contract with the Jackonsville, while outside linebackers Marcus Buggs and Curtis Gatewood, offensive linemen Brian Stamper and Josh Eames are also expected to get picked up this week. Gatewood would be an interesting addition for the New England Patriots, who play a 3-4 defense, as draft expert Tom Casale speculates.

With that said, here's the latest surrounding Vanderbilt's most recent NFL Draft picks:


In need of left tackle, Bears pick Williams (Tennessean)
-Williams was the third of seven offensive tackles drafted in the first round and comes to Chicago expecting to start right away
"I don't know much about their roster, but I'm assuming they needed a left tackle and that's why they drafted me," Williams said. "I think I'm going into a great situation, a complete team for the most part. I'm going to go in and fill a need for them, hope to get in and win a lot of games."

-Chicago coach Lovie Smith visited Williams in Nashville and said he was impressed with his talent and character.
"He's played at a high level in the SEC for a long time at the left tackle position, which he'll play for us," Smith said. "That was a need we had going into the draft, and I'll just say that I didn't go out to a lot of places, but I went out to Vanderbilt hoping that he could fill that spot for us some day.
"He's a serious player. He's a newlywed. … He comes from a great family where education has been stressed. Chris is pretty driven to be one of the better players to play the position. He has high expectations for the type of play that we'll get from him, and I think we'll get that. What I saw was just a solid player who had direction and knew where he wanted to go."

Bears snare VU's Williams (Nashville City Paper)
-Williams said the Denver Broncos will regret not taking him with the 12th pick.
"They'll know why they should have taken me down the road," he said. "I'll enjoy beating the Broncos every time we play them."

-The talkative Williams was at a loss for words afterwards.
"I can't even describe it. I'm about speechless," Williams said. "And you know me, I don't get speechless too often. I'm just extremely ecstatic. It's like a dream come true."

Bears fill No. 1 need (
-Chicago GM Jerry Angelo loves Williams as not only an athlete, but a person.
“All the things you want to hear about a player intangibly, Chris has,” he said.
“We feel like we know him as well as you can know a player,” Angelo added. “Everybody … felt very good about him and what he brings to our football team. You’re going to find he’s very gregarious in terms of his personality, very intelligent and very passionate about football.”

Dedication pays for late bloomer (Sun Times)
-Williams is 70 pounds heavier than he was when arrived at Vanderbilt, a testiment to just how hard he has worked.
''The kid is just a great story,'' said Williams' high school coach, Dale Weiner. ''He just got better and better and better.''

Williams was best possible pick (Sun Times)
-"Here is a guy who can be the cornerstone of the Bears' line for the next eight seasons," writes Matt Bowman. "A good offensive tackle is hard to come by in this league. If you can find one who can stick around for a while, go about his business, and make your running game better, why not draft him?"

Grading the Bears 2008 Draft (Bleacher Report)
Williams' grade: A
Earl Bennett's grade: A-


Gamble pays off for Bennett (Nashville City Paper)
-Brett Hait is exactly right. Bennett's decision to enter the NFL Draft after his junior season was definitely the right move. His lifelong dream of playing in the NFL is now a reality.
“Everything worked out good,” he said. “I don’t have any regrets with anything I did.”

-Bennett said he had nothing left to prove. And he didn't.
“Any time you come back, you have to face double teams, and there’s the quarterback situation at Vanderbilt,” he said. “I didn’t feel I had anything left to showcase.”

Bennett compares to Hines Ward -- sort of (Chicago Tribune)
-Chicago had him rated high on their board, ahead of many of the receivers who went in the second round
''We see him as having starter talent,'' college scouting director Greg Gabriel said. ''Whether he becomes a starter as a rookie, that remains to be seen.''

-Bennett can relate to the Bears' quarterback struggles
"He's done it without having a strong quarterback the last two years,'' Gabriel said.

Bears get Bennett in third round (Chicago Sun-Times)
-Bennett has no problem being labeled as a slot receiver
"I played out wide, too," he said. "But being labeled as a slot receiver, I like playing the slot. My coach always said you've got to be tough to play in the slot, because there are a lot of physical men in there, especially in that linebacker position."

Well-received pick for Bears (Daily Herald)
-Bennett received high praise from Gabriel
"If you watch the tape, he comes up big every game," Gabriel said. "He was their go-to guy. Everybody knew that was who they were going to throw to, yet he still came up with big catches."

Bears start Day 2 with wide receiver (Chicago Tribune)
-Bennett impressed Chicago offensive coordinator Ron Turner
"I like Earl a lot," Turner said. "He has great quickness. He's a really good route runner. ... He's good right after the catch [and] he will go up and catch the ball and battle for it and catch it in a crowd."

-Bennett was praised for his character and intelligence
"We will give him an opportunity, obviously, to come in and compete right away," Turner said. "He's a very intelligent young man, so he shouldn't have any trouble picking things up."

Hey Bears, meet your competition (Chicago Tribune)
-Bennett will force Brandon Lloyd to stand out in training camp considering wide receivers Marty Booker, Mark Bradley, Devin Hester and Rashied Davis are already locks to make the roster.

Chicago Bears press release


NFL Draft: Who Won and Who Lost (Bleacher Report)
-This site says the Giants were the biggest winners in the 2008 draft, citing their fifth-round selection as a reason why.
"One of the more underrated picks by Jerry Reese in 2008 had to be Vandy's Jonathan Goff, With Kawika Mitchell's departure, New York had become very thin at inside linebacker. Goff is very tough, strong, and hard working.
He should be the starter from Day One next season if he can beat out former backup Gerris Wilkinson for the job. Goff may not be an every-down starter, but he and Wilkinson will fill the void left by Mitchell on the interior of the Giants' defense."

Reese's take on Giants' draft (
-GM Jerry Reese expects Goff to contribute on special teams early on
"We think he is a middle linebacker; very productive; very smart," he said. "He can play on all of the special teams. That is a common theme with us - - got to play on all of the special teams; a young kid to bring into the fold, start developing some as a backup middle linebacker. He is smart."

Giants go for IQ with fifth-round pick (NY Daily News)
-Goff joins NY linebackers Antonio Pierce, Danny Clark, Mathias Kiwanuka, Chase Blackburn, Zak DeOssie, and Gerris Wilkinson.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Goff goes to Giants in fifth round

The defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants got a steal in the fifth round of the NFL Draft, taking former Vanderbilt linebacker Jonathan Goff.

Goff was the third Vanderbilt player to be drafted, joining offensive tackle Chris Williams (No. 14 overall) and wide receiver Earl Bennett (No. 70). It marks the first time in seven years that at least three Commodores have been selected in a draft.

The two-time captain and All-SEC performer finished his career with 307 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions. He also became the eighth Commodore linebacker selected in the NFL Draft since 1988.

"Jonathan embodies what a Vanderbilt student-athlete should be, how he should play and how he should conduct himself," said coach Bobby Johnson in a statement. "Jonathan's teammates know about his work ethic, they know he leads by example.

"Jonathan is a physical, tough-nosed player who works hard to improve every time he takes the field. He's a tremendously productive player on the field. Off the field, Jonathan is just a model student-athlete, a guy that has as just as much pride in his academic achievement. He's a wonderful young man."

Read the full Vanderbilt press release here.

Congratulations, Jonathan.

Bennett goes No. 70 to Chicago

Vanderbilt fans now have even more reason to root for the Bears. Junior wide receiver Earl Bennett just joined fellow Commodore Chris Williams in Chicago as he was selected in the third round (70th overall) of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.

Bennett became the first Commodore receiver selected in the NFL draft since 1988 when Carl Parker was picked by Cincinnati in the 12th round.

"Earl's production on the field was amazing," said coach Bobby Johnson in a statement. "Every team we faced focused on slowing Earl and he still produced at a remarkable level. From the minute he stepped on the field as a true freshman, Earl impacted our team.

"Earl is a class act off the field, a guy that I'm really proud to have coached. He's more talkative these days, but for a long time, I thought the only words he knew was 'yes sir.' He's just a very solid citizen, a young man that brings great credit to the university, our team and his hometown."

The Bears said they had Bennett rated higher than many of the wide receivers drafted in the second round and think the Birmingham native has a chance to be a starter in the NFL.

“We see him as having starter talent,” said Greg Gabriel, the Bears’ director of college scouting. “Whether he becomes a starter as a rookie, that remains to be seen. But we see him as a guy who has starter talent. We graded him as such.”

Bennett has been compared to Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward.

“He’s a great route runner,” Gabriel said. “He’s got excellent hands and he’s very good after the catch. On top of that, his character is impeccable.”

Read the full Bears press release here, as well as Vanderbilt's press release here.

Congratulations, Earl. The Chicago Bears now have thousands of new fans.