VCU alumni make a return to TBT with their latest iteration of Ram Nation.
The VCU basketball program has had success in the Atlantic-10 recently, and now their TBT counterpart is gunning for a share of $1,000,000 for the first time in 4 years. With all but 3 players having played collegiate ball in Richmond for the Rams, the team chemistry should be high going into the West Virginia regional.
For more TBT team profiles, click here.
- Brendan Adams (UConn & George Washington)
- David Shriver (VCU)
- Du’Vaughn Maxwell (High Point & Hampton)
- Jequan Lewis (VCU)
- Juvonte Reddic (VCU)
- KeShawn Curry (VCU)
- Manny Camper (Siena)
- Marcus Evans (VCU)
- Marcus Santos-Silva (VCU)
- Michael Gilmore (VCU & FGCU)
- Jamion Christian (Head Coach)
- Mat Shelton-Eide (GM)
- Bo Jones (Asst. Coach)
- Brian Merritt (Asst. Coach)
- Casey Johnson (Asst. Coach)
- Jesse Pellot-Rosa (Asst. Coach)
- Michael Wynn (Asst. Coach)
- West Virginia
Team MVP: JeQuan Lewis
Over 65 @A10MBB alumni participating in this year's @thetournament!— A10 Talk (@A10Talk) July 19, 2023
We've had quite a few certified BUCKETS over the years. Who are you most excited to see once again over the next few weeks? 🏀 pic.twitter.com/9KJAF3jQFh
This team is so balanced that I had trouble picking a team MVP. Almost every player on the team is deserving of the honor and that should bode well for their chances. I did, however, end up picking former Ram JeQuan Lewis. Lewis, All-Atlantic 10 his senior season, averaged in double-figures his last two seasons as a Ram. A career 37.4% shooter from behind the arc, Lewis can shoot the three with ease.
In addition to shooting, Lewis is a good visionary with the ball. He led the A-10 in assists in 2015-2016, then was top 10 in the conference in points produced the next season. In his senior season, Lewis ranked 11th in the conference in efficiency rating, as well as averaging 15.2 PPG. With JeQuan Lewis handling the rock, Ram Nation won’t have to worry.
Make-or-break Player: Brendan Adams
Not a VCU Ram but an honorary one for the next couple weeks, Adams is a bit of a dark horse. He started his career at UConn but really didn’t find his footing, averaging just under 18 minutes per game over three seasons. He then transferred to George Washington, where he averaged 8.2 PPG and 3.6 RPG his first season. However, he transformed into a completely different player during his last season with George Washington, more than doubling his PPG average to 17.4, 5th in the conference.
This breakout encapsulated more than just points, it was every facet of Adams’s game. His offensive rating of 115.4 ranked 4th in the A-10, and he took home the 2022-23 A-10 Most Improved Player award. The 6-4 guard improved basically every statistical category imaginable in just one year, and the increased usage didn’t lead to lower efficiency either. His very low turnover % of 9.9 ranked 8th in the conference, even with a 22.8 usage rate. He scored 35 points against Richmond and 32 against St. Joseph’s. It will be interesting to see if Adams can parlay this last season’s performances into this year’s TBT. My bets are all in on Adams.
As the 7 seed in the West Virginia regional, Ram Nation will play the 2 seed Sideline Cancer in the first round. That’s a tough draw, but if any team in the region can stop Dominique Jones, Marcus Keene, and Tyrese Rice, it’s the VCU alumni team. VCU is built on hard-nosed, physical basketball, with the occasional press. This team, in addition to Lewis and Adams, has VCU standouts KeShawn Curry, Marcus Evans, Marcus Santos-Silva, and David Shriver. That’s not including MAAC Player of the Year Manny Camper from Siena.
Ram Nation is a very tough team, and they have the body of a 3-4 seed rather than a 7 seed, but I blame that on the TBT organizers being conscious about scheduling teams close to their home base in order to maintain attendance. Still, that’s no reason to put a team like this against Sideline Cancer in round one.
Ram Nation has the talent to pull the upset, but do they have the depth? Spoiler alert: it doesn’t matter. I don’t think conditioning or game speed will ever become a problem with this group, and that’s one of the reasons I’m picking them to have a very high chance to pull off an upset over Sideline Cancer. If they do end up losing to Jones and Keene, however, there’s no shame in that.