When asked on Tuesday how would he assess his junior campaign, Mississippi Valley State swingman Vacha Vaughn was forthright and straight to the point.
By and large, he was only keeping it real.
In fact, he fielded the question as if he expected it.
“Unfinished,” Vaughn told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson.
That, after all, means one vital thing, as far as Vaughn is concerned.
In this, his upcoming season senior for the Delta Devils of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), Vaughn figures to finally manufacture the breakthrough season that will give way to greater opportunities for the former Memphis Mitchell High standout.
Greater as in being afforded the luxury of putting his immense skills on display at the professional level.
“I spent my summer working a summer job and preparing for senior year of basketball,” Vaughn said.
All things considered, Vaughn would be the first to tell you that brushing up on his mechanics was essential as he readies for a pivotal final year of college eligibility for an MVSU team that limped to an 8-27 finished last season, including a 0-13 mark on the road in non-conference play.
For starters, Vaughn is coming off of what was a subpar junior campaign, although he made the necessary adjustments prior to last season that enabled him to enjoy valuable minutes.
Of MVSU’s 35 games, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Vaughn made a career-best 34 appearances, averaging 3.9 points while making nearly 68 percent of his field goals.
Add to the fact that he averaged a compelling 20.2 minutes of action and was remarkably aggressive on the boards — he averaged a career-high 4.4 rebounds — and it’s no wonder Vaughn is clinging to lofty aspirations of beefing up his stock as the Delta Devils prepare to open camp in approximately one month.
He registered a career-high of 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in 25 minutes last year in a losing effort against Tennessee Tech.
“I am very hard-working,” Vaughn said of his offseason workouts. “I love being in the gym and around basketball. Every day, there is always room for improvement.”
Which, to Vaughn’s credit, is his primary focus heading into his final season of collegiate ball.
Having been the catalyst of a tradition-rich Mitchell program that has emerged as a Shelby-Metro-area dynasty with three consecutive state championships, the 22-year-old Vaughn chose MVSU after having garnered offers from Lane College, Jacksonville University, and Victory University during his stellar prep stint in the basketball-crazed Bluff City.
Now, as he looks ahead with great expectancy to what figures to a long awaited coming-out-party, of sorts, this year for MVSU, he knows full well he’ll have at his disposal a golden opportunity to excel — and make a favorable impression upon pro scouts — for a Delta Devil squad that will aiming to atone for last year’s disastrous finish.
Not only is Vaughn confident he will be as good as advertised as a senior, but his mother, Alesia Franklin, will undoubtedly make regular trips to Itta Bena, Mississippi to watch her son perform in what figures to be a banner season.
“The sky is the limit for my son because he works very hard at what he does,” Franklin said. “He first began playing basketball at Chickasaw Middle but always (played it) as a kid. College basketball is so important for him because it is fun and he loves to play the sport.”
Not only that, someone who’s extremely close to Vaughn is monitoring him closely.
“He’s a good role model because his little brother looks up to him and some of the other kids in the neighborhood,” Franklin said. “And the sport keeps him physically fit and it allows him to develop skills, strategies, and communication with others that plays the same sport. I would like to add that anything is possible with God who strengthens us.”
All of which generally explains why the 2016-17 season is arguably the most important of Vaughn’s basketball career.
All of which virtually explains why he isn’t merely satisfied at this stage in his college hoops career.
“Unfinished,” Vaughn said.
With a straight face.
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ABOUT ANDRE: A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former sportswriter for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division and the NFL. To read him, send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.