Vanderbilt's men's basketball team, which lacked a consistent outside scoring threat in 2002-03, has found some help for next season. Dan Cage, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound senior shooting guard who led Indianapolis-Bishop Chatard High School to its first-ever state championship, will sign a letter-of-intent to attend Vanderbilt in the fall, his high school coach confirmed on Thursday.
Cage, who signed a letter-of-intent in November with St. Bonaventure but was released from his scholarship after the firing of Bona Coach Jan van Breda Kolff, made an official visit to Vanderbilt April 29 and committed shortly afterwards. Though St. Bonaventure had granted Cage permission to talk with other schools, it took almost a week for the NCAA to clear up all the paperwork in order to allow Cage to sign a letter-of-intent with the Commodores.
Cage will report to campus as a freshman in August and become eligible immediately. He will take over the scholarship vacated by Bryson Krueger, a 6-6 guard who transferred to an Arizona junior college in December after one semester at Vanderbilt.
As a senior Cage averaged close to 18 points per game for Bishop Chatard, which went 22-2 and won a state championship in the 3A classification. He was recently named one of 12 members of the Indiana All-Stars, a team of high school stars which will play two exhibition games in the summer vs. a similar team from Kentucky.
Cage's high school coach Dan Archer said Vanderbilt fans will be thrilled by what they see out of Cage in the fall.
"He's an unbelievable player," said Archer, who has watched Cage progress since eighth grade. "In fact, I can't imagine this program without him. He's put us on the map."
Though Archer used Cage at a number of different positions-- and though Cage even played some center in a tournament in Las Vegas last summer-- Archer sees Cage as a tallish shooting guard at the next level.
"His skills are really good, but he's an all-around player. He shot 57% from 2-point range, and right at 35% from 3. More than that, he's got unbelievable will to win.
"He loves the campus. He loved the players. He really enjoyed Coach Stallings and his staff. Everything [about Vanderbilt] was positive. It was one of those things where he just instantly felt comfortable. He said, 'Coach, you've got to come down and visit!', and we certainly will.
"Dan understands the tradition of Vanderbilt, and he's a 1200-SAT student, a high honors student, and wants to get into law. Dan's big thing is, he's coming to go to school."
Archer compared Cage to one of the state of Indiana's most revered products, former University of Indiana star Steve Alford.
"I told Coach Stallings, if you know the history of Indiana basketball, he has a mentality like Alford," Archer said. "He's not as good a shooter as Alford, but he has that mentality like Alford had, where he just won't be denied. He's a throwback player."
Cage will be Vanderbilt's only new scholarship player for 2003-04. Since Krueger's transfer announcement came after last November's signing period, Coach Kevin Stallings, with all of his scholarship players returning next season, was unable to sign any players in November.