Since the 1998-99 season, outside of the current No. 1 team in the country, there have been few teams at the mid-major level that have been as successful as the Winthrop Eagles. Over the past 22 seasons, the small school located in Rock Hill, South Carolina with an enrollment of just over 5,800 and a gym that seats just 6,100 has won a regular-season or conference tournament title 13 times, and at 11-0 and 8-0 in the Big South, No. 14 is well within their grasps. Through the tenure of three coaches, Gregg Marshall, Randy Peele and now Pat Kelsey the Eagles have had their share of star players such as Keon Johnson and Xavier Cooks; but, Kelsey may have the honor of coaching the best of them all.
At Walsh University
Walsh University is a Division II institution in North Canton, Ohio, and when Chandler Vaudrin arrived there, he was the District 4 Player of the Year and was named to the All-Ohio third team after leading Lake High School to an appearance in the district championship. As a freshman for the Cavaliers, you could tell immediately that the 6’7 native of Uniontown, Ohio was going to do a little bit of everything for his team. He appeared in 26 games, making 20 starts, and averaging 6.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. He was a force on the glass all season, pulling down double-digit boards nine times and recorded three double-doubles.
As a sophomore, Vaudrin exploded onto the scene averaging 15.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 7.5 assists while leading all of the college basketball at any level in triple-doubles with four. He also ranked 13th in Division II with 16 double-doubles and broke the Great Midwest Athletic Conference’s record for assists in a game when he dished out 16 against Kentucky Wesleyan.
His time at Winthrop
After his breakout sophomore season, Vaudrin decided to transfer and Kelsey came calling; Vaudrin decided to finish out his college career at Winthrop. After sitting out the 2018-19 season, he scored 19 points, grabbed five rebounds and four assists in an upset win over No. 18 Saint Mary’s. He also recorded his fifth career triple-double against Longwood with ten points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. He went on to average 9.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.8 assists. This ranked him 16th nationally and helped earn him a spot on the All-Big South Second Team.
So far this season, Vaudrin has led the Eagles to a clean sheet and has netted at least ten points in all but two games; and, has added on to his active-leading triple-double total with two more thus far, bringing his career total to seven. His numbers have increased across the board, from his points (12) to his rebounds (7.5) and assists (8.3), but it’s his percentages that have made a big jump. At the charity stripe, he has improved from a 50% shooter as a junior to 65% so far this season, and his two-point shot percentage has gone up four percentage points over last season; moreover, he is making half the shots he takes from inside the arc.
Winthrop seems poised to make sure once again that any Big South conference championship goes through Rock Hill. For the remainder of the season, especially if the Eagles make the NCAA Tournament, Chandler Vaudrin is a name the basketball world will learn more about and one that will keep opposing coaches up at night.