In one day, Vanderbilt lost its leading scorer and leading rebounder.
Hours after news surfaced that last year’s top rebounder Kevin Bright signed a professional contract to play in Europe, leading scorer Kedren Johnson released an open letter on Vanderbilt’s website Monday saying he has been suspended from the school and the team for the upcoming year for a “violation of the good conduct expected of all Vanderbilt students.”
"I do ... look forward to working with this year's term and overcoming these recent setbacks," coach Kevin Stallings said in a statement.
Johnson, a junior point guard from Lewisburg, averaged 13.5 points and team-high 3.6 assists last year. He underwent shoulder surgery on a torn labrum after the season. Johnson has played in all 69 games of his career, starting all 33 in 2012-13.
“As we get closer to starting the new school year, I feel it is my responsibility to inform everyone of some disappointing news,” Johnson wrote in the letter. “I have been suspended as a student from Vanderbilt University for one year for a mistake I made, the result of using some very poor judgement. That also means I will not be on the basketball team this upcoming season.
“It hurts me when I realize the consequences of my action, which happened near the end of the last school year. It was a violation of the good conduct expected of all Vanderbilt students. I take full responsibility and now must begin working to regain the trust and respect of my school, the student body, our fans and especially my coaches and friends on the team. I understand this will take time.
“I have let down a lot of people including my own family, Coach Stallings and my teammates. I plan to do everything I can to return to Vanderbilt next year. While I won't be on the basketball court, I will be the team's biggest fan. I look forward to fulfilling my obligations and regaining my status as a student at this great school.”
Stallings did not immediately return messages.
Despite no graduation departures, Vanderbilt loses four players from last year’s team. In addition to Johnson and Bright, Sheldon Jeter and A.J. Astroth transferred after one year. Even with two incoming freshmen, that leaves Stallings and the Commodores with just nine scholarship players and without two of last year’s top five scorers.
Vanderbilt went 16-17 and 8-10 in the Southeastern Conference last year.