A 101-degree fever couldn’t keep Vanderbilt forward Lance Goulbourne from scoring 12 points and grabbing nine rebounds in a win against Bucknell on Tuesday.
So it is highly doubtful a case of strep throat will force him to miss a homecoming of sorts when the No. 18 Commodores play in the championship rounds of the Legends Classic this weekend at East Rutherford, N.J. The senior grew up in Brooklyn and went to a college prep school in Princeton, N.J.
“Even if I’m not a 100 percent, I’ll be ready to play,” he said.
He’s expecting more than 50 family members, friends, former classmates and school administrators at the Izod Center when Vanderbilt plays North Carolina State (3-0) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. The Commodores (2-1) will see either Texas or Oregon State in the consolation or title game on Monday (5:30 or 8 p.m.).
It will be just the second time in his college career he has played close to home. His freshman year, Vanderbilt played at Massachusetts.
“It is going to be fun to go back to home, to play in my area and have a lot of people see me play live for the first time [in college],” Goulbourne said. “It will be pretty awesome to see a lot of familiar faces, people I haven’t seen in a while.”
By Saturday night, Goulbourne is hopeful the antibiotics he began taking Wednesday will have done their job.
Before practice on Thursday, coach Kevin Stallings said Goulbourne looked “puny” and “under the weather,” which he expected to limit him in practice. Goulbourne, who missed eight games with mononucleosis his freshman season, hoped to catch up on rest over the next couple days.
“It came out of nowhere Sunday night. I started feeling it Monday morning,” he said. “It hasn’t been too fun but I’m trying to get over it as soon as possible. It wasn’t fun at all, especially at night. I was pretty worn down.”
Three games into the season, Goulbourne has been a big presence inside, especially with 6-foot-11 center Festus Ezeli out with a knee injury until mid-December. He averages 9.3 points and is tied for the team lead with seven rebounds a game.
A 6-foot-8, 225-pounder with a huge vertical leap and obvious athletic ability, Goulbourne said the Vanderbilt coaching staff began recruiting him prior to his junior year of high school. He had offers from nearby Rutgers, along with Marquette, Virginia and Notre Dame. But he said the relationships he built with Vanderbilt’s coaching staff and players influenced his decision to go to school in Nashville.
“Lance went to a really, really good private school — right on Princeton’s campus — and we got involved and they were very interested because of the type of education he had received up to that point,” Stallings said. “We were fortunate to get him. Lance has blossomed into a really good senior basketball player.”
• Jenkins update: Stallings said he expects to have guard John Jenkins back in the lineup against North Carolina State.
Jenkins missed Tuesday’s game against Bucknell due to an ankle injury he sustained on Sunday in a loss to Cleveland State. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard sat out some drills Thursday but did practice, with his right ankle wrapped. He led the Southeastern Conference in scoring last year and is averaging a team-high 20.5 points.
“We expect him to play. How much? We don’t know yet. It will depend on how he does in practice the next couple days,” Stallings said. “We’ll know more in maybe 24-36 hours or so. But we anticipate he is going to play.”
• 3-point streak: Vanderbilt’s 3-point streak has a chance to reach a huge milestone on Saturday.
The Commodores have made a 3-pointer in 799 straight games. Vanderbilt is just one of three schools, along with UNLV (805) and Princeton (676), to sink a 3-pointer in every game since its inception in 1986-87.
“That is an unbelievable streak,” guard Brad Tinsley said. “Every time I hear it, it is just kind of shocking to think it has been that many games where there has been at least one 3. There have been a lot of great shooters to come through here so it doesn’t surprise me too much. But, still, pretty cool to be a part of.”