College Corner: Vanderbilt Football, MTSU vs. Memphis, Vanderbilt Basketball

Vanderbilt’s Wright, Bresnahan, Orji Named To Pre-Season Watch Lists

Mike Wright. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

College football season is a little over a month away and Vanderbilt standouts Mike Wright, Ben Bresnahan and Anfernee Orji have been named to multiple pre-season watch lists.

Wright earned a spot on the Maxwell Award watch list, given to the player of the year by the Maxwell Football Club, while Bresnahan has been named to the Mackey Award watch list and selected as a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. Orji was picked to the Butkus Award watch list, given to the nation’s best linebacker by the Butkus Foundation.

As quarterback in 2021, Wright eclipsed 1,000 passing yards with eight touchdowns, while also rushing for just shy of 400 yards in five games. In his first collegiate start at South Carolina, he threw for 206 yards and ran for 43 while falling one point shy of a victory.

Bresnahan has appeared in 31 games during his time in Nashville, making 20 starts. In that time, he’s caught 45 passes for 509 yards and four touchdowns. Bresnahan’s most productive season was 2020 when he caught 80 percent of passes thrown to him and was rated as one of the top 10 tight ends in the SEC per pro football focus.

Orji led the Commodores with 93 total tackles a season ago, while also pacing the team with 13 tackles for loss. He started all 12 games and finished 12th in the SEC in total tackles. His 13 tackles in the victory at Colorado State were the most by a Vandy player in a single game last season.



MTSU Football Agrees To Home-And-Home Series With Memphis

Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Memphis have agreed on a home-and-home football series, as announced jointly by both schools on Tuesday (July 26).

The first game is scheduled for Sept. 28, 2024 in Memphis before the two teams square off a second time on Sept. 25, 2027 in Murfreesboro.

“We are very excited to add Middle Tennessee to our future schedules,” says Memphis head football coach Ryan Silverfield. “Anytime you have the opportunity to play an in-state opponent, it makes sense from a recruiting and logistical standpoint. MTSU has a great tradition and we look forward to playing them in years to come.”

The two teams have played 27 times since their very first meeting in 1925 with the Blue Raiders owning a 17-9-1 advantage. The Blue Raiders and Tigers last met during a six-year stretch from 2009 until 2014 with three games in Murfreesboro and three in Memphis.

MTSU finished its 2021 season 7-6 overall and 4-4 in conference with a home record of 4-1. They kickoff the 2022 season on Sept. 3 at James Madison University and at Colorado State on Sept. 10 before returning home to face TSU on Sept. 17.



Vanderbilt To Face St. Mary’s In The Paycom Wooden Legacy Tournament

Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt men’s basketball is set to play mid-major powerhouse St. Mary’s at the The Paycom Wooden Legacy in November.

The event, which will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena in California, will begin Nov. 23 with Washington taking on Fresno State before the Commodores battle the 2021 WCC runner-ups on ESPN2. 

The Nov. 24 schedule includes the third-place game on ESPNU followed by the championship game on ESPN2.

In 2021-22, Vandy had one of its best seasons in a number of years behind coach Jerry Stackhouse. They finished the season 19-17, picking up two wins in the SEC Tournament against Georgia and Alabama. They went on to run in the NIT beating Belmont and Dayton before falling to the eventual champions Xavier in the tournament’s quarterfinal.

Former Belmont Star Evan Bradds Joins Utah Jazz As Assistant Coach

Evan Bradds. Photo: Courtesy of the Boston Celtics

Former Belmont men’s basketball superstar Evan Bradds has been hired by the Utah Jazz as an assistant coach.

A two-time Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year, Bradds had been with the Boston Celtics organization since 2017, beginning as an assistant coach with Boston’s NBA G League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, before quickly earning a role on the NBA coaching staff.

As head coach Brad Stevens transitioned to the Celtics front office in 2021, Bradds was elevated to player enhancement coach under new coach Ime Udoka. From video analysis and specialized player skill development, Bradds contributed to the ascension of several Boston frontcourt players, most notably Grant Williams and Robert Williams.

The Jamestown, Ohio native worked with newly-named Jazz head coach Will Hardy this past season in Boston as the Celtics represented the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.

Bradds is Belmont’s NCAA Division I era career scoring leader with 1,921 points, and he ranks sixth all-time in NCAA Division I career field goal percentage (.667).

Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen Jr. Signs Summer League Deal With LA Lakers

Scotty Pippen Jr. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Former Vanderbilt superstar Scotty Pippen Jr. has signed a two-way, Summer League deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Pippen wasn’t selected in the NBA Draft on Thursday night (June 23), so we has signed as an un-drafted free agent. He was drafted along with Shareef O’Neal, son of NBA Champion Shaquille O’Neal.

The Los Angeles native had one of the most successful seasons in Commodore history in 2021-22. He scored 736 points in 36 games played–the most points ever scored by a Vanderbilt basketball player. He led the SEC in points per game with 20.4 ppg, 162 assists and 70 steals.

Pippen was named to the All-SEC First Team and helped lead the Commodores to the NIT quarterfinals, beating Belmont and Dayton along the way. During his time at Vandy, Pippen scored 1,577 career points, standing 12th on the Commodores scoring list. His 17.5 points per game during his three seasons at Vanderbilt are fifth best in school history.

The NBA Summer League will kickoff on July 7.

College Corner: Tennessee & Vanderbilt Baseball, Belmont Women’s Basketball

Tennessee Baseball Earns No. 1 Overall Seed For First Time Ever

Tennessee Baseball celebrating their SEC Tournament Championship. Photo: Courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

After winning the SEC Tournament Championship for the first time in 27 years, the Tennessee baseball team has now earned its highest ever seed for the NCAA Tournament, claiming the No. 1 overall spot.

The Volunteers will host Georgia Tech, Campbell and Alabama State in the Knoxville Regional at Lindsey Nelson Stadium this weekend. It’s the seventh time in program history that the Vols will be hosting a NCAA Regional and their second straight after winning the Knoxville Regional.

Should the top-ranked Volunteers win the NCAA Knoxville Regional, they would also play host for a Super Regional the following weekend. The Vols will be making their 12th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

UTK enters the tournament with an NCAA-best record of 53-7 and won both the SEC Regular Season and Tournament championships for the first time since 1995.

Tennessee made the College Baseball World Series in 2021, but lost in double elimination to Virginia and Texas in Omaha.



Vanderbilt Heading To NCAA Tournament For 16th-Consecutive Season

Enrique Bradfield Jr. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

For the 16th-consecutive season, Vanderbilt is headed to the NCAA Tournament and will be the No. 2 seed at the Corvallis Regional.

The Commodores are joined by host Oregon State, No. 3 seed San Diego and No. 4 seed New Mexico State. Vandy open the double-elimination regional on Friday at 3 p.m. CT against San Diego.

This season, Vanderbilt racked up eight wins against D1 Baseball Top 25 opponents, while sitting at No. 7 in the NCAA RPI. Vandy boasted the nation’s toughest schedule.

The Commodores are one of nine Southeastern Conference teams selected among the field. Vanderbilt is joined by Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M.



Sally McCabe Returns To Belmont As Director Of Basketball Operations

Sally McCabe. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

The Bruins’ all-time blocks leader and two-time Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Sally McCabe, is headed back to Belmont as Women’s Basketball’s Director of Operations, announced head coach Bart Brooks.

In her new role, McCabe will be responsible for the team’s logistical operations and travel while overseeing daily administrative duties.

“I can’t be more excited to welcome Sally back to Belmont to work with our coaching staff and players,” says Brooks. “She was one of the best players to ever put on a Belmont uniform and I was blessed to coach her in her final season. I can’t say enough good things about Sally, the quality of her character and how impactful she will be as a mentor to our student-athletes. Sally is a great representative of our program and I’m thrilled to welcome her back home.”

Upon finishing her highly-decorated athletic and academic career at Belmont in 2018, McCabe attended nearby Vanderbilt where she received a Master of Education degree in early childhood special education in May of 2020. For the last two years, she has worked in early education as a teacher at Nations Ford Elementary in Charlotte, North Carolina, and most recently Granbery Elementary in Brentwood.

During the 2021-22 basketball season, McCabe served as an assistant girl’s basketball coach at Brentwood Academy.

Belmont Names Alumnus Kerron Johnson As Director Of Basketball Operations

Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Belmont University has named former Bruin Kerron Johnson as Director of Basketball Operations, announced head coach Casey Alexander.

Johnson is one of the most decorated players in program history. He is among an exclusive list of players in college basketball history to earn conference tournament Most Valuable Player honors in two different leagues (Atlantic Sun, 2012; OVC, 2013).

The Huntsville, Alabama native returns to Belmont after playing professionally for the past nine seasons, earning all-league honors for MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany.

“We’re thrilled to have Kerron and his family back at Belmont,” says Alexander. “As a player, Kerron was a great competitor, leader, and winner, while representing Belmont in a first-class way. That class and character extended into his successful professional playing career. Our staff expects Kerron to provide the same kind of impact as a coach. Our players will benefit greatly from his presence.”

The point guard led Belmont to conference championships in four consecutive seasons, including trips to the NCAA tournament in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Johnson ranks among Belmont career leaders in points (1,388), assists (515), steals (206) and free throws made (511).

Johnson was inducted into the Belmont Athletic Hall of fame this past fall.

Vanderbilt Basketball Promotes Andy Fox To Associate Head Coach

Andy Fox. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt men’s basketball head coach Jerry Stackhouse has promoted Andy Fox to associate head coach.

Fox is entering his fourth season on the Commodores staff, spending his first two seasons as the Director of Scouting and Recruiting before serving as General Manager in 2021-22.

“I’m excited to announce Andy Fox as our new associate head coach,” says Stackhouse. “Over the past three seasons, Andy has worked tirelessly to support our vision and to help revitalize Commodore men’s basketball. Andy’s knowledge and expertise in college athletics, university policy and NCAA legislation has been a tremendous asset in laying the foundation for our program’s success. As we move forward, I know that his coaching experience combined with his passion for Vanderbilt basketball, makes him an amazing fit for this new role. I’m excited for Andy and his family, and I know our program will continue to thrive as he ascends into this new role.”

In his previous role as Vandy’s general manager, Fox oversaw the Commodores’ on-campus recruiting, underclassmen recruiting, off-campus recruiting, program enhancement and special capital projects, and he also coordinated non-conference scheduling games and ELITE camps. He also assisted with the oversight of the program’s managers and graduate managers.

Fox has been an important member of Vanderbilt’s staff over the last three seasons, helping Vandy to its first winning record since 2016-17 after advancing to the quarterfinals of the NIT this past season.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to continue serving Coach Stackhouse and Vanderbilt University,” says Fox. “There is unprecedented momentum all throughout campus.  I am excited about the new role and my ability to contribute to the exciting trajectory of our program under Coach Stackhouse.”

During his career, Fox has coached six student-athletes who went on to the NBA. He has helped mentor 32 all-conference players and has experience working in a number of conferences throughout the southeast including the SEC, American Athletic Conference, Conference USA and Southern Conference.

Fox arrived at Vanderbilt after serving as the Director of Basketball Operations at Louisiana Tech for four seasons. For the Bulldogs, he handled team travel, coordination of student-athlete recruiting, directing summer basketball camps, game and practice planning, basketball analytics and team scheduling while serving as the program’s compliance liaison and budget manager.

Prior to Louisiana Tech, Fox spent five years as an assistant coach and director of operations at Tulane where he contributed to the recruitment and development of NBA players Cameron Reynolds (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Melvin Frazier (Orlando Magic). Fox also spent four seasons as an assistant coach at The Citadel. While there, he helped guide the Bulldogs to their most successful stretch in program history, including a school-record 20 wins and the program’s first postseason appearance in 2009.

Prior to his professional career in college basketball, he served as a graduate assistant at Tennessee, one year each under Bruce Pearl and Buzz Peterson. While with the Volunteers in 2006, the team captured the SEC East title and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Belmont’s Destinee Wells Named TSWA’s Tennessee Player Of The Year

Destinee Wells against the Lady Vols of Tennessee in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Belmont women’s basketball star Destinee Wells has been named Tennessee Player of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TSWA).

Wells has been the leading scorer during her first two years at Belmont, was named OVC Tournament MVP, and has helped lead the Bruins to back-to-back Round of 32 appearances in the NCAA Tournament. She becomes the first Bruin to be named TSWA Player of the Year since Darby Maggard in 2019.

This past season Wells averaged 16.7 points, 4.5 assists, 3.6 rebounds and a steal. She ranked among the top 65 players in the nation in both total assists (140) and assists per game, while second in the OVC in scoring and assists.

Wells averaged 21 points in the Bruins’ sixth OVC Tournament title run in seven seasons. She was masterful in the OVC Tournament championship against Tennessee Tech, dropping 22 points as the game’s only double-figure scorer. That performance came on the heels of scoring 20 points on 6-for-10 shooting and going a perfect 8-for-8 at the free-throw line in the OVC Tournament semifinal win over Austin Peay.

Wells’ impressive playing continued in the NCAA Tournament where she averaged 19 points, 5.5 assists, five rebounds and two steals against fifth-seeded Oregon and fourth-seeded Tennessee. In Belmont’s thrilling double-overtime First Round victory over the Ducks inside Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Wells scored 16 points, seven assists and grabbed four rebounds. Against the 18th-ranked Lady Volunteers in the NCAA Tournament Second Round, Wells posted a game-best 22 points, secured six boards and dished out four assists.

Seven of Wells’ 11 20-point games in 2021-22 came in the months of February and March and she scored a season-high 27 points in key road victories at Tennessee Tech (Feb. 5) and Murray State (Feb. 24).

Reaching double figures in all but two games in 2021-22, Wells finished the season with 519 points, 140 assists and 112 rebounds. She has scored in double figures in 43 of her last 45 games and 51 of her 56 career games. Starting in all but one game she’s donned the Belmont jersey, Wells is only 36 points away from becoming the Bruins’ 33rd 1,000-point scorer. She has also compiled 255 assists and 188 rebounds over the last two seasons.

Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen Jr. To Enter 2022 NBA Draft

Scotty Pippen Jr. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Junior Vanderbilt basketball star Scotty Pippen Jr. has announced via social media that he will be leaving school and entering the NBA Draft.

Pippen has had one of the most successful seasons in Commodore history this past season. He scored 736 points in 36 games played–the most points ever scored by a Vanderbilt basketball player. He led the SEC in points per game with 20.4 ppg, 162 assists and 70 steals.

“I want to thank coach [Jerry] Stackhouse, all my coaches, teammates, support staff and professors for being there for me and always believing in me,” said Pippen in his statement.

Pippen was named to the All-SEC First Team and helped lead the Commodores to the NIT quarterfinals, picking up wins over Belmont and Dayton.

The Los Angeles native scored 1,577 career points, standing 12th on Vandy’s scoring list. His 17.5 points per game during his three seasons in Nashville are good for fifth best in school history.

Next up for Pippen will be the NBA Draft Combine which takes place in Chicago from May 16-22.

The NBA Draft takes place on June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.