Myles Stute’s strong offseason and work ethic are paying off
The sophomore power forward has improved his defense and shooting, becoming a force to be reckoned with this season.
January 17, 2022
When Myles Stute first came to West End, everybody was aware of his natural talent, athleticism and range from beyond the 3-point arc. A 2020 McDonald’s All-American nominee and four-year letterwinner at Gonzaga College High School, the forward chose Vanderbilt despite offers from conference foes Florida and Texas A&M, as well as established programs such as Georgetown and Marquette, among others.
Stute’s love and dedication to sports since a young age has led to his success on the court and fueled a desire to always improve. His mom, Natalie, reasons that her son first got into sports because he was born into an athletic and sports-loving family.
“I would say collectively, we’re a sports family,” she explained. “His grandpa was an athlete at the University of Minnesota and his sister played at Miami of Ohio. When Myles was younger, he played every sport under the sun—the junior Olympics, karate—he was never pigeonholed to just basketball.”
A natural athlete, Stute thrived playing sports growing up, and it did not take long for his talent to shine on the court.
“All throughout elementary school, he always played up,” his mom said. “Once he got involved in AAU and played for the Minneapolis Fab, they won every state tournament. When Myles was in eighth grade, he made the varsity team. Then we moved to D.C., and he joined the middle school team, and they won the championship. So, at that point, Myles was getting a lot of experience playing competitive basketball. He played for Gonzaga in grades nine through 12, and throughout his time there went to the Nike Elite Camp, John Lucas Camp, CP3 [Chris Paul] Camp and more.”
Despite nearly constant success throughout his youth basketball career, once Stute’s freshman season came around in 2020-21, he dealt with adversity almost immediately. In the Commodores’ first game against Valparaiso, a 77-71 win, Stute scored three points and played 17 minutes.
Soon after, however, he tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to miss four consecutive games in a stretch between Dec. 13 and Dec. 22. With cancellations of other games resulting from other COVID-19 cases around the country, Stute did not play his second collegiate game until Dec. 27—exactly one month after his debut.
“Individually, it was a bit of work for me because I had put on some weight in quarantine,” Stute said. “I think I ended up being quarantined for about three weeks last year, so it was a little harder to get back just because it was my first year in the SEC. It takes some time to work back into a rhythm and get used to facing the best competition in college basketball.”
Nevertheless, in Stute’s first game back on Dec. 27, he scored 16 points, playing 19 minutes in an 87-59 win against Alcorn State. He continued his strong play at the start of conference play, notching 11 and 16 points, respectively, in losses to Florida and Kentucky in which he played over 30 minutes in each.
It was at this point that he cooled off, however. After the Kentucky game on Jan. 5, Stute did not score higher than six points in a game. In addition, after a 92-71 loss against Arkansas on Jan. 23, head coach Jerry Stackhouse stated that Stute’s defense was not up to the standards that the coaching staff expected.
Last season concluded when the Commodores lost 69-63 to the Florida Gators in the SEC Tournament. The team finished 9-16 overall and 3-13 in conference play. Although there was slight progress with Vanderbilt securing its first SEC Tournament win since 2017 in a 79-68 victory over Texas A&M, Stute went into the offseason with a sour taste in his mouth.
In fact, Natalie has noticed that although Stute has been largely successful in basketball, he thrives off the challenges that continue to arise in life on and off the court.
“There was adversity during his freshman year,” she said. “He got COVID-19 while adjusting to his first year as a student athlete, but he’s a young man who thrives on adversity and has fully taken on the mindset of doing whatever it takes to get better.”
So during the offseason, Stute made a dedicated effort to get in superior shape and improve his game by putting in the work and time off the court. So far, his efforts have paid off, as he has become a consistent starter and role player for the Commodores this season, used on 16-20% of possessions.
After Stackhouse gave him a bit of tough love last season, one area in which Stute believes his game has improved is his defense, and the stats confirm that. Through 21 games last season, he had two blocks and six steals, while this season, through just 16 games, he has eight blocks and 12 steals.
“My defense and my overall physicality has improved the most from last year,” he said. “This offseason I wasn’t in the shape that I wanted to be in, and I wanted to get up to my standards and slim back down and add muscle. I had all this training in mind to be able to compete with the best 4s and 5s in the SEC.”
On Jan. 4, Stute put his defensive prowess on display in the Commodores’ 75-74 win against the Arkansas Razorbacks. With Vanderbilt leading by one and only seconds remaining in the game, Stute made a game-saving block to help his team secure their first win against Arkansas since 2017 and end the Razorbacks’ streak of 16 consecutive wins at Bud Walton Arena.
However, it isn’t just now that people are noticing his tremendous work ethic and improvement on the court. Back in November, Stackhouse told the media how pleased he has been with Stute so far this year.
“I think defensively he has been really good,” Stackhouse said. “Some of our trapping defense, having him up the top with the length that he brings and having high hands and rebounding the ball for us. I still think he can be a better offensive rebounder for us. But the shot-making, we know that he can do that. He’s confident. He’s seeing the ball go in the hole a little bit, and he’s getting those opportunities.”
Speaking of shooting, Stute has also become a steady contributor this year shooting the ball from close range and beyond the arc.
“I think this year my shooting has really improved as well,” he said. “I’m shooting around 40% from 3 so far I believe.”
He’s not wrong. So far this year, he is shooting 40% from 3 (32-of-80) with a 42.7 overall field goal percentage (44-of-103). Through five fewer games this season, Stute has made 14 more 3-point shots and 22 more field goals than his freshman year. Stute has improved his overall field goal percentage by a difference of 13.8% and his 3-point accuracy by a difference of 11.4%.
He credits his improvement to working with NBA players the past two offseasons. Before the 2020-21 season, for example, Stute played with Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo to prepare for his college career.
“I wasn’t able to work with Oladipo [this past summer] because he was dealing with some injuries, but I played with Tre Kelley (NBA G League) and I think getting those reps in has really paid dividends to my game so far,” he said.
With all the work that Stute has put in, Stackhouse knows that it isn’t just his teammates and his coaches that notice. It’s also his competitors.
“Eventually, he’s gonna be on somebody’s scouting report,” Stackhouse said. “They’re going to look to probably take him away and some of the things that we’re doing for him. It’s going to open up some opportunities for someone else. So we’ve got to be ready to play the game.”