"Last week, messed around and got a triple-double..."
Do you think Winthrop basketball's newest addition, Chandler Vaudrin, likes the rapper Ice Cube? Because Vaudrin, like Ice Cube, certainly enjoys a triple-double. Vaudrin led all three levels of NCAA men's basketball in triple-doubles -- when a player reaches double figures in three different stat categories in one game -- in 2017-18, and he'll join Winthrop this summer after his transfer from Division II Walsh University (Ohio) was announced this week. Vaudrin will sit out the 2018-19 season per transfer rules.
"Chandler is going to be an impact player for us," said Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey. "He is one of the most versatile players you'll find anywhere. He is a true 'stat sheet stuffer' as he affects the game in a myriad of ways. Besides his impressive stats, we were impressed by his competitive fire, love of the game and drive to improve. It has been a joy getting to know his family through the recruiting process. They are wonderful people. Chandler excels in the classroom and will be a terrific addition to our campus community."
Vaudrin will try to emulate the success of three previous Division II players that transferred to Winthrop.
Keon Moore's success at Catawba College translated immediately on the offensive end of the court and he scored exactly 1,000 points in just two seasons in Rock Hill. He's enjoyed a pro career in Europe in the years since.
Likewise, Jimmy Gavin spent one season at Winthrop after transferring from Wisconsin-Parkside and averaged over 18 points a game, shooting 41 percent from 3-point range, scoring 38 points in a near upset of N.C. State and eventually landing on an NBA Summer League team before heading over to Europe to play professionally, too.
And Perkins, who was second in NCAA Division II in scoring in 2014 at Erskine, had more muted success statistically but played his best game at Winthrop in the 2017 Big South tournament championship game, helping the Eagles book their first NCAA ticket since 2010.
The Herald's Bret McCormick caught up with Vaudrin over the phone on May 17, 2018 to talk about the mismatch of his size and playing style, what attracted him to Winthrop, and the origins of his noteworthy mustache.
What is your commitment to your facial hair? Have you had a mustache for a long time?
So, when I was in high school I had the crustiest mustache. Like, eight hairs and I was dumb and I thought it was funny and my friends thought it was funny so I rocked it. Then, once I got into college it started growing a little bit and I was like, 'okay, I can actually work with this.' People can actually notice it if they squint one eye. It started growing out and people started liking it so it's just a fashion statement now, so I've got to stick with it.
You're a tall point guard - how did you develop that mix?
I was probably 5-10 my freshman year of high school. All growing up I played point guard and then my sophomore year I grew a little bit and by my junior year I was 6-5. I was like 6-6 going into my senior year and I grew actually a little bit my first year at Walsh. I was a point guard to start and when I kept growing it all stayed.
When did you decide to pursue a Division I opportunity?
I thought I was a D-I player out of high school but I actually verbal committed (to Walsh) my junior summer. Me and my family had never been through it before, we didn't really know how the whole recruiting process worked and I didn't want to lose out on a scholarship so I committed before my junior summer. So, I went to Walsh and my freshman year there were two All-Region players that averaged 21 and 23 points a game so I started every game but two, but I was just a glorified role player.
Once the two seniors left, Walsh coach Jeff Young put the basketball in Vaudrin's hands, and the point guard's offseason work showed up in his statistical output last season. Besides leading the team in scoring, rebounds and assists, Vaudrin averaged 2.33 steals per game and also shot over 50 percent from the field. He had 16 double-doubles and made first team all-conference.
How encouraged were you by Winthrop's track record with Division II transfers?
Me and my family, we looked at all the things. We looked at transfers, who they've got, how the transfers did, what positional players are there, we did our homework before coming down to Winthrop. That was encouraging to see a player they trusted (Jimmy Gavin) and the highlights don't lie for him. He was super nice. It's cool they believed in him and trusted him and I hope Winthrop does the same for me and I can help them win games.
Getting Vaudrin was a coup for Winthrop. The Eagles fended off Davidson, Missouri State, UMass, UAB, James Madison, Central Michigan, Kent State, California-Davis and Montana to land the 6-foot-7 Ohio native.
What helped you pick Winthrop?
For one, a big thing for me was I wanted to go away from home. When I was at Walsh I was only 15 minutes away from home. I'm a homebody, I love family and all of that, but I didn't feel like I was getting the full college experience. I felt if I went away I'd be able to grow up and learn how to do things on your own.
Winthrop was actually my first visit and I had other visits set up. But when I got there, just how professional it felt and how they treated us with the utmost respect, it felt like we were royalty. When we finished, me and my parents were like, 'wow, how could another school top that? There is no way another school could do better than that.' Every time we pulled up to a building there were two assistant coaches waiting for us, we got to meet with the president and the athletic director. And every time we met someone it was like all the coaches and the faculty were on the same page. They knew our name, where we were from, why we were here, so it just felt really comfortable.
Any idea what you'll major in, and any career plans outside of basketball?
My legs will give out one day so I do need a fall-back, so I'm gonna do business finance. A career goal for me, to stay around the game, I'd like to handle money for athletes or musicians. I'm musically declined, I'm bad at instruments, but I love music, I think it's super cool. So doing contracts for them, or investments, would be a goal of mine once basketball ends.
What do you want to improve on during your year on the sidelines?
Players look at it two different ways: 'ah dang, I've got to sit out a whole year, I have to practice every day but can't play,' but I'm looking at it as I have a full year to get adjusted to the speed, I get to get stronger, work on my lateral movement, and most importantly my jumper, just the consistency of it. Coach Kelsey and his staff said that they're going to do that right away. Pretty much those three things. So I'm actually super-excited about this first year even though I don't get to play.
Do you have any cool nicknames we need to know about?
I do not. Whatever the fans want, they can say whatever they want. I've just got to get wins, that's all that matters.