Vanderbilt’s Roster Experiences Shake Up Heading into Upcoming Season
Photo Credit To Billy Hurst (USA Today Sports)

Vanderbilt’s Roster Experiences Shake Up Heading into Upcoming Season

Vanderbilt saw their 2018 season come to an end with a 78-62 defeat at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs on Day 1 of the SEC Tournament in St. Louis on Mar. 7. The Vandy roster experienced shake up on Wednesday.

Vanderbilt basketball players Payton Willis and Larry Austin Jr. have been granted their release, according to Adam Sparks of the Tennessean.

The roster move creates five vacant scholarships – presumably for Indiana product Romeo Langford and five-star Georgia high school standout E.J Montgomery.

McDonald’s All-Americans Simi Shittu and Darius Garland, along with South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year Aaron Nesmith make up the current seventh best recruiting class in 2018 according to 247 Sports – a program best.

Garland and Shittu are the first McDonald’s All-Americans to ever sign with Vanderbilt, and the first five-star signees since John Jenkins in 2011.

Willis, a sophomore guard from Fayetteville, Ark. played 66 games with 16 starts over two seasons. He averaged 5.1 points and 1.4 assists this season, seeing an increased role with the loss of Matthew Fisher-Davis to shoulder surgery. Willis was part of Kevin Stallings final recruiting class at Vanderbilt in 2015.

Austin, a point guard, played one season at Vanderbilt after transferring from Xavier. He averaged 2.5 points and 1.0 assist in 23 games. Austin is on course to graduate in May, meaning he could transfer to another Division I program and play immediately with one year of eligibility remaining.

Both Willis and Austin would see severely diminished roles given the signing of Nesmith and Garland, with hopes Langford could join to form a trio of McDonald’s All-Americans.

Garland (No. 2 Point Guard Nationally), Langford (#1 Shooting Guard Nationally), and Nesmith (No. 64 prospect nationally) form the most heralded class in Commodore basketball history.

Canadian born Simi Shittu (No. 2 Power Forward) missed much of his senior season due to a torn ACL, but Head Coach Bryce Drew expects to have a fully recovered Shittu by November.

Langford will make his college choice on March 28, at the McDonald’s All-American Game in Atlanta – Indiana and Vanderbilt are the favorites.

6-foot-10 E.J. Montgomery, the No. 3 power forward, is considering Vanderbilt, Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky.

Two transfers also will become eligible for Vanderbilt next season in 6-8 small forward Matt Ryan, a Notre Dame transfer, and 6-10 center Yanni Wetzell, a transfer from Division II school St. Mary’s in San Antonio to bolster Vanderbilt’s overall roster depth.


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