The sight of a hobbling Briante Weber in tears with a heartbroken Treveon Graham and Jarred Guest signified the end of an era on March 19. The season was over and so was the dominant run of a senior class that embodied HAVOC and the spirit of VCU basketball.
Graham, Weber and Guest will go down as one of the winningest classes in program history. The trio lead VCU to their fifth straight NCAA tournament berth, a feat never accomplished before in the program’s history. The wins, the milestones and the respect are all warranted, given what each have brought to the team over the last four seasons.
When you look at any team today, you look first to the leaders. These are the men that set the tone and are the voice, commanding respect and consistency on and off the floor. As team captains, the trio did just that, helping each player become better. More importantly, each player led the team in their own way.
Graham was never the vocal leader many felt he should’ve been, but the Temple Hills native always let his play do the talking. Soft spoken as he was dangerous, Graham was relentless on both sides of the floor, fighting for buckets with the same desire and intensity he fought for boards and steals. When the offense became stagnant and the team needed a spark, it would often come at the hands of Graham who earned the nickname “Freight Train” in part because of his non-stop aggressive style of play.
Averaging 16.2 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game was never afraid to take the shot as the 6-foot-6 swingman increased his scoring averaging in each of his four years as a student athlete. Averaging 7.0 points per game his freshman year, Graham more than doubled his scoring average as a senior.
En route to the team’s first Atlantic 10 championship crown, Graham was named the A-10 tournament MVP where he averaged 17.3 ppg in the tournament after earning his second straight A-10 All-First Team accolades.
Graham had as good a shot as any at breaking Eric Maynor’s all-time scoring record but injuries plagued the the Temple Hills native. Still, Graham finished second all-time with a total of 1882 points, 71 behind Maynor.
Weber’s dominance on the defensive end was unmatched. Even with the steals record in sight and the chance to go down as one of the all-time greats in that category, Weber was dealt a harsh blow that many may not have come back from after going down to injury. But the Chesapeake, Virginia native showed for every game that followed with as much passion and as he did when dressed for active duty. His presence on the sidelines was in large part a reason the team made it as far as they did, winning the A-10 and earning an automatic bid to the tournament.
Weber would have surely broken the all-time steals record barring injury. The three-time Atlantic 10 defensive player of year
An agile big man who could transition from both sides of the floor with ease, Guest had spurts of brilliance. The 6-foot-8 forward from Columbia, South Carolina was a pivotal role player whose number Smart could call on in any situation. Against Ohio State in the second round, Guest answered the call when forward Mo Alie-Cox fell into foul trouble early. Much like he did his entire collegiate career, Guest came off the bench and looked to help his team anyway he possibly could. Guest was never much of a star or got the attention or minutes his fellow senior teammates received, but the forward was a team leader both on and off the floor.
When claims were made that the 2014-15 men’s basketball roster was Smart’s best team yet, it was because the six year head coach housed a sleuth of veterans that could produce and aid the highly touted incoming recruiting class. It only benefits the collegiate careers of Justin Tillman, Michael Gilmore, Jonathan Williams and Terry Larrier that they were able to spend a year under the tutelage of the seniors to carry the Rams into the future.
Now as the three prepare to embark on their post-VCU careers, the trio of JeQuan Lewis, Melvin Johnson and Mo Alie-Cox will likely be their successors as team leaders. If they’ve learned anything from Graham, Weber and Guest, and it’s pretty clear they have, then the future of VCU basketball looks to be in great hands.