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Vanderbilt’s Jenkins To Enter NBA Draft

Vanderbilt guard John Jenkins announced Monday he plans to forgo his senior season and enter the NBA Draft.

Jenkins plans to sign with an agent, which would eliminate any possibility of Jenkins return to college.

“This was a very difficult decision for my family and I to make, but I am ready to dedicate myself fully to achieving my dream of playing in the NBA,” Jenkins said. “The last three years have been the time of my life, and I will always cherish my time at Vanderbilt and the relationships I have made along the way.”

Jenkins will have a chance to be drafted in the first round of the draft, which will take place on Thursday, June 28.

Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranks Jenkins as the No. 40 prospect in the nation and projects Jenkins as a “late first round pick.” Ford recently wrote the following analysis of Jenkins:

“Jenkins may be the best shooter in the entire draft. He has ridiculous range and isn’t afraid to let it fly from just about everywhere. If he were a little taller, a more explosive athlete or more of a point guard, he’d be a lock for the first round. Going back to school isn’t going to change any of that. As it stands he’s on the first-round bubble.”

The latest projection from DraftExpress.com has Jenkins being selected with the second pick of the second round.

Jenkins’ decision means Vanderbilt will have to replace its entire starting lineup from the 2011-12 season. Guard Brad Tinsley, forwards Lance Goulbourne and Jeffery Taylor and center Festus Ezeli all depart as seniors.

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SEC Headlines – 3/9/12 Part Two

1.  Florida needs a renewed focus on defense today against Alabama.

2.  The Gators also need a feel-good win heading into the NCAAs.  (This one’s Billy Donovan versus old aide Anthony Grant, by the way.)

3.  If Georgia had shot all year the way they did in two games against Mississippi State, they sure wouldn’t have finished 5-11 in league play.

4.  Former UGA tight end Orson Charles — who left school early for the NFL — followed up a disappointing Pro Day with a DUI early this morning.  (Charles said Monday that he turned pro in order to help his mother pay some of her bills.)

5.  If you’re in New Orleans today to see Kentucky take on LSU — in less than an hour — you’ll likely spot a billboard of Anthony Davis that the school has put up.

6.  Expect the Tigers to be physical with the Wildcats today.

7.  South Carolina’s “miserable season” ended with yesterday’s loss to Alabama.

8.  Just to reiterate, Carolina’s “forgettable season” ends with the loss.

9.  Tennessee will enter tonight’s game with visions of the NCAA tourney dancing in their heads.

10.  For Cuonzo Martin it’s all about the defense… as usual.

11.  Vanderbilt will try to go 3-0 versus Georgia when they play late tonight.

12.  Festus Ezeli says the SEC tourney is “a chance to right some of the wrongs we’ve made before.”

13.  Gary Pinkel says Missouri and Kansas should play in Kansas City every September.

UPDATE — Mike Slive says the league will discuss making changes to the way it doles out Thursday-Saturday basketball turnarounds.

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SEC Headlines – 1/6/12 Part One

1.  Florida’s Erik Murphy should be able to play in the Gators’ SEC opener tomorrow despite needing stitches over his eye after a collision in practice yesterday.

2.  Orson Charles and several other Georgia players are still deciding whether to stay in Athens or head to the NFL early.

3.  Kentucky will try to stop two-sport star Bruce Ellington when South Carolina visits tomorrow.

4.  Carolina’s football team will lose four starters on offense (including three on the line) and seven on defense.

5.  Kevin Steele has denied any connection to Tennessee, but he reportedly remains a viable candidate for the Vols’ defensive coordinator slot.

6.  A healthy Festus Ezeli makes Vanderbilt a much more complete team.

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Vandy’s Ezeli Suspended Six Games For Accepting Improper Benefits

Vanderbilt is expected to have a Top 10-caliber hoops team this season.  Vanderbilt is expected to challenge Kentucky and Florida for the SEC championship.  But Vanderbilt has an early-season problem on its hands.

Senior center Festus Ezeli has been suspended for the first six games of the season for accepting improper benefits from a Vanderbilt alum.  Ezeli had a meal — egads! — and a hotel room paid for by the VU fan while he was visiting friends this summer.

“I am very sorry and would never want to jeopardize my college career over such a petty thing as a meal or a hotel room,” the 6-11 big man said in a press release.  “I would have been able to afford those things myself.  I have always tried to do the right thing; I should have known better and am embarrassed that my mistake could affect my team.”

Vanderbilt officials reported the violation to the SEC and the NCAA in early August.

“Festus Ezeli is a good, honest student-athlete that accepted an act of kindness from a Vanderbilt alum and now faces the consequences,” said vice chancellor of athletics David Williams.  “We have a very good compliance education process in place and this incident shows how easily someone can fall astray, even with the best intentions.  We discovered this matter, reported it promptly and cooperated fully with the NCAA and its process and well abide by its conclusion.”

This story will no doubt leave NCAA-haters — and they are legion — outraged.  “A meal and a hotel room,” they’ll shout.

While we agree this seems to be “a petty thing,” the NCAA must draw a line somewhere.  When dealing with thousands of athletes across the country, it’s easier to just nix any kind of extra benefit altogether.  If the NCAA went about it any other way, there would be debates about what the cut-off point should be:

Four meals are okay, but five are too many?

Dinner at McDonald’s is okay, but dinner at a top-dollar restaurant is not?

A weekend hotel stay is okay, but three nights is too many?

So the NCAA drew the line and Ezeli stepped over it.  At least he’ll be back before conference play starts.  Of course, any early season losses the Commodores suffer as a result of his the center’s absence could impact the team’s RPI — and thus seeding — come March.

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SEC Headlines – 1/13/11 Part One

1.  It’s good news for Will Muschamp that Urban Meyer is moving toward working with ESPN next year.

2.  Billy Donovan credits a tough non-conference schedule for helping his team get off to a 2-0 conference record.

3.  What key fixes must Mark Richt make to keep his job?

4.  Vanderbilt ended Georgia’s nine-game win streak 73-66 last night.

5.  Weather led the Dawgs to decide to stay over in Nashville for a couple of days before busing down to Oxford for a game on Saturday.

5.  Kentucky freshman Stacey Poole has John Calipari wondering if he’ll be able to handle big-game pressure.

6.  The headline at The Charleston Post & Courier reads: “Gamecocks fire blanks in loss to Crimson Tide.”

7.  Watching on television from his home, Bruce Pearl thought Tennessee showed improvement in a Tuesday loss to Florida.

8.  There’s talk of Vol football coach Derek Dooley getting a pay raise… after a 6-7 season.

9.  John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli both scored 18 as Vandy dropped Georgia for its first SEC win last night.

10.  Kevin Stallings said his team played hard and that they “had to win.”

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Festivus (Festus) For The REST-OF-US!!!!!

Vanderbilt
Content provided by Vanderbilt Sports Line.

Festus Ezeli was named SEC Player of the week(http://www.secdigitalnetwork.com/NEWS/tabid/473/Article/217326/sec-mens-hoops-players-of-the-week.aspx). This marks the 3rd SEC POTW award for the Black and Gold (3 out of 4 overall). Pretty impressive if I do say so myself. It tells me that in any game a different player can step up and lead the Commies to victory.

P.S. I find tinsel distracting!

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Ezeli named SEC POTW

Vanderbilt redshirt junior Festus Ezeli was named the SEC Player of the Week for his play against Western Kentucky and Belmont last week. Ezeli averaged 19.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in the two Commodore wins.
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So The National Media Wants A Story? Look No Further than Festus Ezeli

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Content provided by Vanderbilt Sports Line.

Not surprisingly perhaps, the Commodores have not gotten a whole lot of national media love. The ESPN analysts consider us to be a solid underdog team, as does Jeff Goodman at foxsports.com. We can’t really get a peep out of Gary Parrish at CBS, but he didn’t give us any love until we beat Tennessee on the road last year either. They’ll praise Cal and the Wildcats until the cows come home and the little guy as well, but we are not on the national radar yet.

Unlike last year where I lobbied vehemently that this team get some national recognition, I am fine with us not getting the love at this point in the season. We’re going to have a lot of coverage leading into a true measuring-stick game against Missouri on the road, and as I will argue later, I believe this team is ahead of where it was last year. That being said, there is one story that is not being recognized by the national media enough, and that is the outstanding development of Festus Ezeli.
In observing the national landscape, people are quick to point out how Kemba Walker has put UCONN on his shoulders and developed into a national player of the year candidate. I completely agree that Kemba Walker is a total stud, but he was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, so it’s hard to say that he was all that unheralded. I also agree that Derrick Williams of Arizona is a great story, as a three star recruit who has become the unquestionable anchor of Arizona’s front court. But while they give the love to Williams for his 27 point performance in a loss against a talented Kansas squad, how can the National Media ignore the performance of Festus Ezeli over the past 6 games?
This was a guy who had barely played organized basketball before he came to Vandy, the very definition of a development project, and as I will point out in the coming weeks, he is the very reason that, despite Ogilvy’s offensive prowess, we do not miss the Big Aussie all that much. I took Kevin Stallings to task for starting Ezeli at the outset, where I was not impressed in his performance against a large Nebraska front court, and I will gladly stick my foot in my mouth at this point. Since that game, Ezeli has averaged, AVERAGED, 15 points, 8 boards, and 2 blocks per game, to say nothing about his 15 and 9 against UNC, or his most recent 24 and 10 against Belmont. Without question, he has filled the void that Ogilvy left, and while Ogilvy may have been able to get to the free throw line and shoot with more consistency, Festus is a superior defender. He still fouls a tad bit too much, but that part of his game is also vastly improved.
As a matter of fact, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that he has performed at least as well as ANY big man in the SEC at this point, if not better. Georgia’s Trey Thompkins has played well since returning from injury, but he is averaging 16 points and 8 boards against competition that is not comparable. There’s been lots of talk about the veteran posts on Florida’s squad, as well as the heralded freshman Patric Young, and yet NONE of them are averaging in double-digits in either points or rebounds. Kentucky doesn’t really have a true big man, and the closest player, Terrence Jones, plays a vastly different style of ball, though statistically he’s performed at a similar level. If you compare his performance against UNC to Ezeli’s performance against UNC, however, his 9 points and 6 boards is not as impressive as Ezeli’s 15 points and 9 boards.
And then there’s Brian Williams of Tennessee, who everyone suddenly thought was a solid player for some reason after the NCAA Tournament. Williams hasn’t even been close to Ezeli’s performance on offense or defense at this point. Freshman Tobias Harris has been fantastic, but he is also more of a Terrence Jones type player who does things a little differently from Festus. Marshawn Powell is not statistically close.
The point is, Festus, at this point in the season, is RIGHT up there as the best big man in the SEC, and as I’ll explain more in depth this coming week, the Commodores are better because of it.
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Vanderbilt-Belmont postgame quotes

“We were really happy to win. I thought in the second half, we played with intensity on defense. Our pressure was more of a factor and we were able to do some things better on offense… Festus [Ezeli] was terrific for us. Other than turning the ball over and a lack of half-court offense in the first half, I was pleased with how we played.”
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Video: Post-Belmont press conference

Men’s basketball head coach Kevin Stallings, forward Jeffery Taylor and center Festus Ezeli answer questions from the media following the Commodores’ 85-76 win over Belmont.
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