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March 16, 2012

Scouting Report: Vanderbilt

BadgerBlitz.com sought out the help of Chris Lee from VandySports.com to provide a scouting report for Wisconsin's upcoming contest against the Commodores.

The Starters

Brad Tinsley (PG), 6-foot-3, 210 lbs, Sr.

What he does well: Tinsley was second in the Southeastern Conference with a 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and led the league in conference games with a 2.5 mark. Earlier in the year, he eclipsed 1,000 points for his career; ironically, his highest per-game average was as a freshman, when he averaged 11.0 points per contest. Tinsley doesn't ever force the action with his shots, hits 40 percent of his 3-pointers, and though not a flashy player at all, can sometimes elevate and finish with dunks on drives. He's really a combo guard playing point, but slides to the 2 at times.

Where he struggles: Despite the assist-to-turnover ratios, Tinsley's handle has been shaky at times, and when he loses confidence, he can turn the ball over in bunches. That's probably one reason that freshman Kedren Johnson has started to steal some of Tinsley's playing time, and when the two play together, Johnson runs the point. Tinsley is probably the worst defender in the starting lineup, and struggles to keep his man in front of him; for that reason, he hasn't been called upon to defend point guards much recently.

John Jenkins (SG), 6-foot-4, 220 lbs. Jr.

What he does well: Many think Jenkins is the nation's best 3-point shooter, and for good reason: the third-team All-American hit 45 percent of almost 300 3-point attempts, and can hoist a shot within three-quarters of a second of getting possession. If Jenkins has a sliver of daylight from inside about 27 feet, the shot's going up. He's got a deadly step-back move that helps him create space, and he's effective at getting to the rack and finishing, too. He's got outstanding body control, and is great at getting airborne, knowing when he'll draw a foul, and throwing the ball at the goal convincingly enough to get to the line. Jenkins struggled as a defender his first two seasons on campus, but was was effective in guarding quick guards a good bit of the season.

Where he struggles: Offensively, Jenkins is one-dimensional; he had more assists than turnovers and isn't a particularly good passer. However, Jenkins isn't expected to do much else; when the ball's in his hands, you certainly want him shooting if he's got anything close to a good look.

Jeffery Taylor (SF), 6-foot-7, 225 lbs., Sr.

What he does well: For the first 29 games, Taylor was the team's MVP, and maybe the SEC's second-most valuable behind Kentucky's Anthony Davis+. Want a guy who can leap? Taylor can touch the top of the backboard, cut his head on the rim as a freshman, and has more highlight-reel dunks than any VU player in history. Need someone who can bomb from the outside? Taylor hit 43 percent of his 3s, and until a recent shooting slump, had a higher percentage than Jenkins. A four-year starter, he's Vandy's third all-time leading scorer, ranks in the Top 10 in steals and rebounds, and has an outside shot to get there in blocks as well. For the second year in a row, he made the league's all-defensive team, and his ability on that end is such that he can guard even the quickest of point guards and hold his own.

Where he struggles: For Taylor, it's all between the ears. He's flash greatness for a few games, then go into a shell for the next two or three games for much of his first three games. That issue seemed to be resolved until a six-game stretch at season's end in which Taylor had his three-worst games. Stallings had a heart-to-heart with Taylor before the Kentucky game in the SEC Tournament (which Vandy won) and he responded with 18 points and 11 rebounds. When he loses confidence, he'll miss easy lay-ups around the rim, his jumper goes flat, and he's prone to turning the ball over in bunches.

Lance Goulbourne (PF), 6-foot-8, 225 lbs., Sr.

What he does well: Goulbourne gives Taylor a run for the money as the team's best athlete; he doubled as a tennis star in high school with a 130-mph serve. Like Taylor, he's got elite leaping ability, and can explode through the air for a spectacular put-back on missed shots. He's the team's best offensive rebounder, can hit the open 3, and leads the team with 53 steals. He can handle the ball a bit and drive to the hole from the top of the key as well

Where he struggles: While Goulbourne can hit open jump shots, he's got a long release time and so he needs to be wide-open if he's going to have a good shot to connect. He struggles with turnovers, and recently, he's had a habit of missing dunks.

Festus Ezeli, 6-foot-11, 255 lbs., Sr.

What he does well: Ezeli never played high school basketball, and his transformation into a potential NBA player in five years is a testament to his hard work and resiliency. Physically, he's a beast: when Ezeli gets position on the low block, he's got the strength and coordination to power through double-teams and score. He's worked on his foul shooting to get to a respectable 60 percent, which was about double what he hit his first two years. That's good, because he gets there a lot. Defensively, he's a beast: he's the program's all-time leading shot-blocker, and even when he's not swatting them, he's influencing them with his presence.

Where he struggles: Ezeli is still raw in many ways; he's not going to score more than about seven feet away from the basket, does not pass well, and is prone to turnovers if he does not turn and face the basket immediately upon catching the ball, as a second man will come pick his pocket. His season was slowed by knee injuries and back problems, causing his numbers to dip from his spectacular break-out campaign of last season.

Top Reserves:

Kedren Johnson, 6-foot-4, 215 lbs., Fr.

Johnson has gone from Tinsley's back-up to almost his peer, and down the stretch of games lately, the ball's been in his hands. He's not exceptionally quick, but has good body control and his linebacker-like build helps him when he gets in traffic. His shot is flat and he's not shot a good percentage, but he's been money at the line. He's a freshman who's not playing like one, and he's getting better every game.

Dai-Jon Parker, 6-foot-3, 190 lbs., Fr.

Rivals' Jerry Meyer called Parker the best high school perimeter defender in America last year, and the freshman excelled in locking down opposing players in bit roles. He's got exceptional lateral quickness and coordination and be tough to dribble by, and has explosive leaping ability. However, Parker's offensive game is limited; he hasn't shot well, and his ball-handling can be erratic.

Rod Odom, 6-foot-9, 207 lbs. So.

Odom biggest talent has been his outside shooting, but he's started to become a more well-rounded player, drawing praise from Stallings for his defense over the last couple of months. A highly-rated recruit out of high school, he's not great at any one particular thing, but gives the team solid minutes off the bench.

Steve Tchiengang, 6-foot-9, 240 lbs., Sr.

Tchiengang is Vandy's most blue-collar player. He lacks explosiveness and isn't counted on for scoring, but is a solid foul shooter and was an excellent 3-point shooter earlier in his career. Injuries have taken a big toll on Tcheingang's ability and confidence as an offensive player, but he's a great teammate who's happy in a supporting role. Defensively, he's a bruiser - physical, but not dirty, he won't back down from anyone and you'll have to earn your points if you get them over Tchiengang, which also causes him to get in foul trouble often.


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