Vanderbilt basketball ready to reload with the start of early signing period

Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 12:05am

Vanderbilt enters the 2011-12 men’s basketball season loaded. After this winter, though, the Commodores will have to reload.

With five scholarship seniors graduating and shooting guard John Jenkins possibly leaving for the NBA draft after his junior season, Vanderbilt will have to regroup and refill the cupboard.

That process officially began Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period, which extends through Nov. 17.

In the next couple of days Vanderbilt, which opens the season Friday against Oregon, could receive a letter of intent from shooting guard A.J. Astroth. The three-star recruit from Tampa committed to the Commodores earlier this week. At 6-foot-6 and 190 pounds, he averaged 20.5 points as a senior last year. He didn’t receive the offers he wanted and spent this summer playing on Team Breakdown on the AAU circuit. He is currently at Faith Baptist Christian (Prep) School in Brandon, Fla.

The Commodores also expect small forward Kevin Bright to follow through on his commitment. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder from Germany and declared his intentions in June, choosing Vanderbilt over California and Utah.

Vanderbilt, however, is hoping its biggest catch will come from within the state lines.

Five-star forward Alex Poythress from Clarksville’s Northeast High School will announce his decision on Thursday. The 6-foot-8 Poythress has narrowed the list down to Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Florida and Memphis.

Regardless of what happens, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said he hopes to sign at least three, possibly four players.

“We need perimeter players,” Stallings said. “We do need one big guy. We’ll need a five man of sorts. The biggest need that we have is a perimeter need. With losing Brad [Tinsley], Jeff [Taylor] and then possibly losing John, we’ve got guys in the program, but there is not any depth there.

"We could sign two or three perimeter guys early, and then we’ll see what happens late.”

• Three named All-SEC: Jenkins, Taylor and Festus Ezeli were named to the All-SEC first team by the league’s coaches.

Vanderbilt was the only school that had three on the first team. Alabama, Florida and Kentucky each had three players on the first and second teams.