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Vanderbilt coaching search: Will John Thompson III be the pick?

Yes, Vanderbilt's firing of head basketball coach Bryce Drew after just three seasons might have seemed sudden on the surface. But the reality is it was a clear statement from newly hired athletic director Malcolm Turner that he wants to bring in his own hire.

The Commodores' dismal season also made it an easier decision. After entering the season with NCAA tournament expectations, the loss of potential lottery pick Darius Garland to a knee injury less than a month into the season and an 0-18 SEC showing derailed Vanderbilt's season in a big way.

So what's next for Turner and the Commodores?

Job description

The Vanderbilt job took on a slightly different level of expectation when it hired Turner as the athletic director back in December. Turner was the president of the G League before taking over in Nashville, putting the clear focus in the athletic department on the hoops side. Getting rid of a head coach after such a short tenure -- including one NCAA tournament appearance -- also raises the potential pressure for the next coach.

The Vanderbilt coaching position has challenges as an elite academic school, but the fact it's one of the few SEC jobs where basketball matters more than football is attractive to many coaches.

Vanderbilt has never been to a Final Four, last advancing to the Elite Eight in 1965. Kevin Stallings went to five NCAA tournaments in a six-year span from 2007 to '12, but the Commodores have made the tournament just 10 other times in program history.

Who could be in the mix?

First calls

Shaka Smart, Texas: Smart could certainly say no, but there have been rumblings he could leave Texas for the right job given he will enter next season on the hot seat. Vanderbilt would be an intriguing landing spot, and it could give him a fresh start. Despite the struggles in Austin, Smart has continued to recruit at a high level, and he would keep talent heading to Nashville. It's worth a shot.