Vanderbilt freshman football player Jamie Graham is expected to join the Commodore basketball team today as a walk-on, Coach Kevin Stallings said Monday.
Graham, a former football and basketball standout at Whites Creek High, signed with the Vanderbilt football team last February with the understanding that he could also play basketball.
Stallings said VU football coach Bobby Johnson offered his blessing this week.
“Bobby was encouraging of Jamie playing,” Stallings said. “I told Bobby I only wanted Jamie if he’s a great kid and a hard worker, and Bobby said, ‘You’ll love him.’”
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Graham scored more than 1,500 career points at Whites Creek and led the school to state-tournament appearances in 2006 and 2007.
Even though most recruiters knew Graham was destined to play football, he received basketball scholarship offers from several schools, including Colorado, East Carolina, Furman and Appalachian State.
When Graham signed with Vanderbilt earlier this year, Stallings described him as good enough to play in the Southeastern Conference.
“He had some skills as a high school player, but I don’t know how much he’s been playing lately,” Stallings said. “That’s one of the things I visited with him [Monday] about, the fact that I knew timing-wise, he wouldn’t be there, and he certainly doesn’t know what we’re doing.”
Nonetheless, Stallings said he wouldn’t invite a walk-on to join the team seven games into the season unless that player could help in the future.
“This isn’t a charity organization,” Stallings said. “We wouldn’t keep a guy if he isn’t good enough to help us. We’ll give him a chance, see how much he likes it and that sort of thing.
“We’ll see where it goes. I don’t anticipate that it will go anywhere very fast because he will have a lot of catching up to do.”
Graham redshirted with the VU football team this year while practicing at cornerback.
ON THE MAP: Vanderbilt, off to a 7-0 start for the ninth time in school history, climbed into the national rankings Monday for the first time since last season.
The Commodores are ranked No. 23 by the Associated Press and No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll.
Vanderbilt was last ranked in the Associated Press poll at No. 19 on Feb. 16, 2007. This marks the third season in the last eight in which VU has appeared in the national polls.
HONORED AGAIN: For the second time this season, Vanderbilt senior swingman Shan Foster was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday.
He scored 26 points last Thursday against South Alabama, then scored 17 two days later against Georgia Tech. Foster, averaging 19.6 points per game, has led the Commodores in scoring in five of seven games this season.
He has also scored in double figures in 11 straight games dating back to last season.
HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Montverde (Fla.) Academy, led by Vanderbilt signee Steve Tchiengang, is ranked No. 5 on ESPN’s preseason list of the nation’s 25 best prep basketball teams.
Tchiengang, a 6-foot-9 forward, signed with the Commodores in November and will join the team next season. Montverde, 30-0 last season, also features guard Dashan Harris, a Texas A&M recruit.