#69 VCU Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

VCU Rams

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #69
Conference Rank: #6 Atlantic 10

VCU Team Page#69 VCU Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy VCU Basketball Tickets

VCU was well on their way to a special 2014-2015 season before an injury to Briante Weber derailed their season. Still, it was a great season for the Rams, who finished 26-10 and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament. They fell to Ohio State in the second round and seeing the team without Weber gave us a bit of a glimpse of what to expect in 2015-2016. But there are other big changes at VCU too, most notably on the sidelines where Coach Will Wade takes over for Shaka Smart. Coach Wade was an assistant for the Rams from 2009 to 2013 before spending the last two years as the head coach at Chattanooga. Thus, expect the havoc to continue to a certain extent.

2014-15 Record: 26-10, 12-6
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Will Wade
Coach Record: 0-0 at VCU, 40-25 overall

Who’s Out:
Weber epitomized the havoc style that VCU employs. He led the nation in steal percentage the last four years and would have led the nation in steals per game for the last two seasons had he played enough games to qualify last season. In 2014-2015, he was averaging 3.9 steals per game before the injury. Weber also averaged 8.1 points, 4.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds. The graduation of Treveon Graham leaves a big gap in the scoring and rebounding department. The 6-6 guard led the Rams with 16.2 points and 7.1 rebounds. Forward Terry Larrier has opted to transfer after his freshman campaign in which he averaged 6.6 points and 3.0 rebounds. Another forward, Jared Guest, has run out of eligibility following a senior season in which he averaged just 7.1 minutes per game.

Who’s In:
The backcourt picked up a couple impact players in Korey Billbury and Samir Doughty. Billbury is a graduate transfer from Oral Roberts, where he averaged 14.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season. He is an experienced, tough guard who will be a nice fit in the system. Doughty, an incoming freshman, is a great all-around scorer. He should be able to provide a nice scoring punch off of the bench right away. Point guard Jordan Riullano figures to add some depth for now. The frontcourt adds Gerron Scissum, Jonathan Nwankwo and Ahmed Hamdy. Hamdy, a junior college transfer who originally signed with Houston, averaged 16.2 points and 10.7 rebounds last year at Lee College in Texas. Hamdy is a fine rebounder and should at least help replace Graham’s production in that department.

Who to Watch:
Melvin Johnson is the team’s top returning scorer and the only returning senior on the roster. He is mostly a shooter, but he does that extremely well. He knocked down 86 three-pointers last season and once again should be the most prolific outside shooter on a team that likes to shoot. Johnson will get his points again, but it is up to a promising trio of juniors to step up and replace Weber and Graham. JeQuan Lewis played admirably last year when stepping in for Weber. In total, he averaged 8.5 points, 2.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game, yet his numbers were better when his minutes picked up a little bit after Weber’s injury. Jordan Burgess has yet to live up to his scoring potential and his shot was not falling much last year. However, he is a big 6-5 guard who will still do a lot of work on the glass. Mo Alie-Cox is the big, physical presence in the paint. He can push people around and had a big sophomore season, averaging 7.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. Doug Brooks does not carry the same expectations as the other juniors, although he played 15.1 minutes per game last year and is a very good defender.

Final Projection:
One of the sophomores to watch is Jonathan Williams. He is a true point guard and did show some potential in limited playing time last season. VCU has plenty of talent on the perimeter as it is, but Williams should see more action this year and that will allow Lewis to spend some time off of the ball. The concern is in the frontcourt. Alie-Cox is a great piece to build around and Hamdy has some experience, but occasionally this team will need to put a bigger lineup on the floor and they may not have the frontcourt bodies to do that. Justin Tillman, a 6-7 sophomore, could develop into a solid option for Coach Wade and he could develop into a key player. But in the tough A-10, it is the lack of experience that could haunt VCU in 2015-2016. With a new coach and quite a few inexperienced players, this looks like an NIT team that is building for the NCAA Tournament in 2017.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
JeQuan Lewis, Junior, Guard, 8.5 points per game
Melvin Johnson, Senior, Guard, 12.4 points per game
Jordan Burgess, Junior, Guard, 5.1 points per game
Korey Billbury, Senior, Guard, 14.4 points per game (at Oral Roberts)
Mo Alie-Cox, Junior, Forward, 7.4 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.5 (52nd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.8 (148, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 41.9 (255, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.4 (197, 10)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.1 (30, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.3 (171, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.7 (288, 10)
Rebound Margin: -1.2 (240, 11)
Assists Per Game: 12.7 (164, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.7 (28, 3)


See All Top 144 Basketball Previews