The following excerpt comes from Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, the “bible” of college basketball now in its 32nd printing. Edited by SEC Digital Network contributor Chris Dortch, Blue Ribbon is a 400-page preview that features full stories on 345 Division I teams. To order a copy, go to www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 877-807-4857.
Key returning player: Kedren Johnson (6-4, SO, PG)
Johnson is an industrial strength point guard who at a sculpted 215 pounds looks like he’d be just as comfortable on a football field separating wide receivers from their helmets. In high school, Johnson played even heavier and looked it; considerable credit goes to Vandy’s strength and conditioning staff for his impressive transformation.
Johnson didn’t shoot well as a freshman (.343 FG, .238 3PT), but he proved that, even at his size he was a legitimate point guard. Johnson earned his scholarship with 1:32 to play against Kentucky in the SEC title game when he drove through traffic for a layup, scored, got fouled and made the free throw. That gave Vanderbilt a 65-64 lead and was probably the turning point in the game.
“Kedren’s role increased last year because he made it increase,” Stallings said. “He deserved more playing time and he started impacting our team in more positive ways.
“For Kedren, the ability is there. He has good ball-handling skills, good shooting skills, superb passing skills. Attention to detail and mental approach will be keys to him. But he has the ability to make other people better.”
Key newcomer: Sheldon Jeter (6-8, FR, F)
Jeter, from the same high school, Beaver Falls (Pa.), that produced Joe Namath, averaged 22 points and 12 boards for a team that won the Western Pennsylvania Class AA title and was a runner-up in the state tournament. Jeter, who signed in the spring, had narrowed his choices to Penn State, South Carolina and Wisconsin, and Vanderbilt was glad to get him.
Jeter has guard skills and will probably end up at the three spot, but he can also guard the four.
“He’s an interesting prospect,” Stallings said. “He’s got range, and he can run the floor and really finish.”