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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

What if Vanderbilt Basketball players were Game of Thrones characters?

Left photo via Claire Barnett
Left photo via Claire Barnett

Wednesday night’s Vanderbilt Basketball game vs. Florida is Game of Thrones night, and Vanderbilt Athletics is going all-out to put on a show worthy of the Iron Throne.

Westeros’s finest will be on hand at Memorial Gym as the Commodores look to snap a lengthy losing spell in the SEC. The Iron Throne will be in the building for photo opportunities, and the first 1,000 fans will receive free Thrones-themed shirts.

This theme night got us thinking…what GoT characters match up with the 2019 Vanderbilt squad?

Here’s what we came up with.

Darius Garland (Nedd Stark)

Oh Nedd Stark.

In the first season of Game of Thrones, everyone thought he would be a major force in the show. He was respected and powerful, and there was no way he could get killed. Darius Garland came to Vanderbilt as a highly-touted player and was set up to do big things on West End.

Unfortunately, much like Garland’s career at Vanderbilt, Stark’s stint on the show ended far too soon. Stark was brutally executed by the Lannisters near the end of the first season, and it set the standard that no character Game of Thrones is safe.

It’s the same at Vanderbilt. Garland had so much hype and brought so much hope, which made his untimely exit that much more heartbreaking.

Aaron Nesmith (Jon Snow)

Jon Snow began the show as more or less of an afterthought. He went North to the Wall to join the Night’s Watch, but all the real action was happening in the South. But now, Snow is essentially the main character of the show. The action revolves around him, and suddenly Snow is the superstar.

That’s more or less how Aaron Nesmith’s first year at Vanderbilt has gone. He was thought of as just the third recruit in Vanderbilt’s historic 2018 recruiting class alongside five-stars Garland and Simi Shittu. However, as the season has gone on, he has looked more and more like a stud and the centerpiece of the team. Much like Snow, he has gone from unsung underdog to a true leader and star.

Saben Lee (Arya Stark)

Neither will ever be the tallest or strongest person in the room, but Saben Lee and Arya Stark will probably be the quickest. At the beginning of their careers, they weren’t expected to play major roles, but after just one season for Saben, and around three for Arya, we all realized they were going to impact every single game (of Thrones).

Both are absolute assassins who are constantly in attack mode; they are trained to dominate and are always hunting, whether it’s the basket, or Lannister soldiers. They are both effective, thanks to their ridiculous speed and elusiveness. Yet, what separates them from the others is their mindset. Neither is afraid of any challenge and knows they have a good shot at beating the person in front of them.

Yanni Wetzell (Brienne of Tarth)

Left photo by Claire Barnett

Much like Yanni Wetzell making his way from New Zealand to the United States to play college basketball on a big stage, Brienne of Tarth journeyed to the main continent of Westeros from the Narrow Sea to become one of the fiercest fighters in the all the land. Lady Brienne is loyal, intimidating and incredibly adept at fighting with anyone she comes across, much like Wetzell’s ability to battle down low with fierce SEC adversaries.

Plus, you know…they’re both really really tall.

Simi Shittu (Bran Stark)

Bran Stark’s first season on Game of Thrones mimics the way Simi Shittu started on Vanderbilt’s campus: recovering from a leg injury. Of course, paralysis and a torn ACL are far from the same injury, and if the comparison ended there, it would be a weak one. However, much like Bran throughout the entire series, Shittu is still trying to understand and get a feel for his powers.

At moments, we see Bran jump into the past and look like he’s going to take control of Westeros as we know it, and we get flashes of that from Shittu as well. Often we’ll see him lead the break or finish through contact and prove why he was a projected lottery pick to begin the season. He can be a force to be reckoned with if he can harness his talent, and can take over this Vanderbilt program, but like Bran, it’s going to take time to hone his skills.

Clevon Brown (The Hound)

What first stands out when you see Clevon Brown is his size. Brown is incredibly strong, making him hard to beat in the post, just like the Hound is difficult to best in a brawl.

Since Brown and The Hound are both tall, tough, and faster than you would expect, they do a sterling job of protecting, both on the court and in the field of battle. While the Hound has protected kings and crucial characters, Brown prefers to protect the rim, leading the team handily in blocks. More importantly, they share their growth. Just like the Hound went from a small, recurring character to a significant fan favorite, Brown started the season with a limited role, yet he has lately started games and even finished some in crunch time.

Joe Toye (Sansa Stark)

Sansa Stark is one of the original characters in Game of Thrones. She’s been a part of the show since episode one, and has grown through a lot of struggles and hardship into a leader and a confident character.

Toye has had a similar path at Vanderbilt. He came in as a freshman ready to play on a talented team, but having to prove himself at every turn. Toye has seen hardship, including two NCAA Tournament early exits and the struggles of the past two seasons. However, he’s still here and he has become a leader and a fighter. As the lone senior on the team this season, he has had to suddenly bear a massive burden. Toye hasn’t the main focus in the spotlight, but he has truly become a leader over his four seasons at Vanderbilt.

Mac Hunt (Samwell Tarly)

Samwell is one of the most lovable characters on Game of Thrones. He starts out trying to train at the Night’s Watch, and he’s meant to be a fighter. But, we all know his passions lie elsewhere: in the library with all of his books. He finds that happiness in The Citadel.

Mac Hunt has registered points for the Commodores this season as a walk-on, but his true passions lie in music. He’s a fantastic musician and put out a single at the beginning of the season called “Doubts.” Go check it out on Spotify.

Isaiah Rice (Grey Worm)

Grey Worm is one of the leaders of the Unsullied and is a key advisor to Daenerys Targaryen as she begins to build up her forces and support. He is a faithful warrior and a humble servant of the Mother of Dragons.

Rice, a walk-on that hasn’t seen much action in his time here, is the same way. He’s a part of the squad and a humble warrior for the Commodores.

Matthew Moyer (Ser Bronn)

Left photo via Hunter Long

Both Matt Moyer and Ser Bronn of the Blackwater may never be the stars of the show, but that does not mean they won’t be appreciated. Bronn has been recognized as everyone’s favorite comrade, especially while working for Tyrion, and, later, Jaime Lannister; just like Moyer is useful while playing alongside anybody on the roster.

Another essential trait they share is their grit and hustle. They’re always doing the dirty work wherever they are and for whomever they are with, whether it’s boxing out and setting picks, or being the champion in a trial-by-combat. Both also have a knack for filling whichever role they’re needed for, whether it’s a simple mercenary and stretch four, or army lieutenant and big man in the middle.

Matt Ryan (Ygritte)

A Northerner who travels down South for battle against a fierce foe, using primarily long-range artillery to bury the enemy one shot at a time.  Sure, that sounds like Ygritte’s trip from north of the wall to fight at castle black and pick off men of the night’s watch with a slew of arrows.

But doesn’t it sound a little more like Matt Ryan’s journey from the winters of New York and South Bend down to Nashville, joining the Commodores via transfer and cementing a role in the rotation as a three-point specialist? Throw in the British roots of these two — Ygritte played by a Scottish actress and Ryan playing for the Fighting Irish — and this is a match made in Game of Thrones heaven.

Max Evans (Theon Greyjoy)

Theon Greyjoy has been through the ringer in this show, and a lot of people don’t believe in him. He’s been a captive of the Starks, prisoner of Ramsey Bolton and finally a partner to the Mother of Dragons on her quest for the Iron Throne. Greyjoy is a passionate fighter, and despite not being the center of attention, he shows that he cares about his family and cares about being successful.

Max Evans is a similar player at Vanderbilt. He might not be the star or the center of attention, but through a lot of tough seasons at Vanderbilt, Evans has proven to be a passionate fighter that gives 110% whenever he’s on the court. That’s a Greyjoy quality you just can’t teach.

Ejike Obinna (Podrick Payne)

Podrick Payne became a fan favorite from the moment he stepped into the limelight.  His comedic relief and everlasting loyalty are hallmarks of his character, and it’s why he’s remained a squire on the show for so long.

Likewise, Obinna has always been a fan favorite in the Djery Baptiste mold. He’s young, relatively new to basketball, and sometimes made some boneheaded plays his freshman season.  It’s clear, though, that Podrick (and Obinna) have untapped potential, and right now he might be best served squiring for Brienne of Tarth (Yanni Wetzell).

Bryce Drew (Danerys Targaryen)

Left photo via Madison Lindeman

Drew and the Mother of Dragons share a lot in common. They both come from a powerful family, they both are adept at recruiting people to their side and they both have an incredible charming quality about them. A lot of people are really rooting for them as crunch time approaches at the end of this basketball season and the start of the final season of Game of Thrones.

But, the question on everybody’s mind with both of them is: can they win?

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