Becoming the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in 2008 was the last thing on Shan Foster’s mind when he arrived at Vanderbilt in 2004.
Having played center at Bonnabel High in Kenner, La., he didn’t envision a record-setting college career in which he would become one of the nation’s most feared perimeter shooters.
Foster’s journey was capped Tuesday when he was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in a voting of the league’s coaches.
“Did I think I was going to be able to accomplish the things that I have?” he said. “Not in a million years.”
Foster became the second straight Vanderbilt player to win the award. Former Commodore forward Derrick Byars was honored last year.
The 6-foot-6 Foster became VU’s all-time leading scorer this season and has scored at least 20 points in an SEC-best 18 games. He is currently averaging a league-best 20.6 points per game and leads the conference in 3-point shooting percentage at 47.2.
With 1,958 career points, Foster is also on the verge of becoming only the 22nd player in SEC history to pass the 2,000-point mark.
When Foster received his Player of the Year award Tuesday, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said justice was served.
“He’s as deserving as anybody has been for this award since I’ve been in the league,” he said. “It was pretty obvious. Shan has worked exceptionally hard the entire four years he’s been here, and this is quite a culmination for him.”
Foster chuckled Tuesday when recalling his transition to guard when he arrived at Vanderbilt.
“When I got here and had to play guard my freshman year, they were teaching me how to make post passes,” he said. “It was crazy. I’ve definitely come a long way.”
Stallings, however, expected success for Foster, who at the time was the highest-rated recruit Vanderbilt had signed under Stallings.
“We recruited him to be a perimeter player,” Stallings said. “The first day I saw Shan play, he had 30 points and 20 rebounds and probably two or three 3s.
“We thought he could be a great player in college, and he has been. I didn’t know he would be a Player of the Year, but we thought he could be a candidate.”
On Tuesday morning, Foster received a text message from Byars.
“He congratulated me and said, ‘That’s how you wear those shoes that I left for you,’” Foster said.