Damian Jones to Return for Junior Year

The Commodores run in the NIT is one that they can hopefully parlay into a strong SEC campaign next season and an NCAA Tournament bid next March. That whole process got a little easier for Kevin Stallings and his men on Monday afternoon when Damian Jones announced he is to return to Nashville for his junior season as opposed to declaring himself eligible for the NBA Draft.

“After consulting with my family and Coach (Kevin) Stallings, I felt it was in my best interest to return to Vanderbilt next season,” Jones said via a press release. “I love it here at Vanderbilt, and I am extremely excited about our team. I can’t wait to start working toward making our team better this spring.”

This is obviously outstanding news for the ‘Dores and their fans. Jones was showing up as a second round pick in most mock drafts. On the ESPN Draft Board he was rated as the 54th top prospect, which is obviously good but with only 60 picks being made this is a little close to the cut off point for a guy with two years of college eligibility to improve his game. This fact is especially true in the NBA draft where teams will use picks on little heard of Euro players, knocking some of the athletes ranked in the 40s and 50s out of the draft altogether.

Jones was the long All-SEC first-team player on the Commodores roster this fall. He averaged 14.5 points per and 6.5 rebounds per game, coming on strong as the season wound down and his team needed him most. With Jones now making his commitment to stay public, the ‘Dores will return seven of its top eight players from a year ago. This, along with an outstanding recruiting class (ranked in the top 25 nationally), will easily put the Commodores in the top half of the SEC next season.

Coach Stallings perhaps said it best.

“We’re thrilled that Damian has decided to return for his junior season. This was a process that he and his family took very seriously, and we’re happy that he came to this decision. Damian has the potential to be one of the top big men in the country next season, and we’re excited to see him work with a promising group of returnees and outstanding incoming players this spring and summer to see that come to fruition.”

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