Vanderbilt took a huge step in filling its gap in the post.
On national signing day Wednesday, the Commodores received a national letter-of-intent from 6-foot-9, 210-pound Damian Jones out of Baton Rouge, La. Jones is the only signee of the 2013 class for Vanderbilt.
“We are extremely excited about Damian Jones, a guy that we targeted his junior year and made every effort to pursue and to sign,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “We think he has a chance to be a superb college player and he gives us an athletic presence around the goal that can be a difference maker. He’s a skilled player, but his greatest strength is his athleticism and his ability to block shots and to rebound. We’re very excited about him.”
Jones, a senior at Scotlandville Magnet High School, is a four-star prospect and the ninth-best center in the country, according to Rivals.com. Last year he averaged eight points, eight rebounds and four blocks and helped Scotlandville win the state championship. Jones, who wants to pursue a degree in electrical engineering, chose Vanderbilt over Oklahoma, Florida, Stanford, Georgia and LSU.
“He comes from a great family, and we were very fortunate to get him on his visit due to Hurricane Isaac [in August] after his trip was delayed for more than 48 hours,” Stallings said. “But, his mother and father made unbelievable efforts for him to get here. They are a terrific family and we’re excited to have them.”
Jones could make an instant impact inside. Josh Henderson, a 6-foot-11 sophomore, is still a concern with a fragile and twice surgically repaired left foot. Shelby Moats, a 6-foot-8 forward, is adjusting to a new role of center but is giving up size.
The Commodores are expected to return all 14 players on this year’s roster, which includes 11 scholarship players and zero seniors. Plus, Tulsa transfer and point guard Eric McClellan will be eligible to play next winter after sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Vanderbilt was in the hunt for another power forward, Austin Nichols. But the 6-foot-8 big man chose to stay in his hometown and play for the Memphis Tigers.