Freshman guard Shelton Mitchell to leave Vanderbilt program

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Vanderbilt went with a youth movement of sorts this season with a host of underclassmen going through what amounted to a “trial by fire” under head coach Kevin Stallings, and that’s expected to benefit the Commodores over the long haul.

One player who won’t be around to see the rebuilding process out is point guard Shelton Mitchell, who has decided to transfer. The news was announced by the Vanderbilt program Thursday morning, and Mitchell will have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2015-16 campaign at the school of his choosing.

“I have decided to transfer from Vanderbilt for personal reasons,” Mitchell said in the release. “I loved my basketball experience at Vanderbilt playing for Coach Stallings and his staff and with a great group of guys we have on this team.  

“However, I feel it is in my best interests to continue my college education elsewhere. I want to thank Coach, the fans, and my teammates for the support they’ve given me during my stay at Vanderbilt.”

Mitchell started 11 of the 31 games in which he played in 2014-15, averaging 4.3 points and 3.3 assists in 20 minutes of action per contest. He was one of three guards utilized by Stallings in the role of playmaker, with classmates Wade Baldwin IV and Riley LaChance being the others (and LaChance was the team’s best perimeter shooter).

Those two return in 2015-16, as does classmate Matthew Fisher-Davis, and the Commodores add two more guards in freshman Camron Justice and Cornell transfer Nolan Cressler. Cressler averaged 16.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 2013-14 at Cornell. Given their perimeter depth Vanderbilt will be able to absorb the loss of Mitchell, and their deep front court led by rising junior Damian Jones makes the Commodores a possible Top 25 team in 2015-16.