The Press Box: Weber and Daniels rep VCU in NBA post season

Sophia Belletti, Photo by Brooke Marsh

March Madness may be over, but the excitement for VCU basketball will carry through the big leagues.

Until VCU’s Final Four run in 2011, VCU was just another average team in the Colonial Athletic Association.

In 2011 when VCU busted brackets, beating Purdue in the first round and completely shattered brackets, beating the No. 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks in the Elite Eight, VCU became a school nobody would forget.

Now, former VCU basketball stars Briante Weber (2015 alum) and Troy Daniels (2013 alum) will square off in the first round of the NBA playoffs when the Charlotte Hornets play the Miami Heat.

Miami began beefing up its roster to add depth for the playoffs by signing Weber last weekend, making him the second active VCU player in the NBA.

VCU and University of Dayton are the leading A-10 teams in number of current players in the league.

VCU may not have as many players in the league as University of Kentucky currently does (22) but it is clear VCU players are learning and further developing during their time at VCU. Players such as Weber and Daniels are obtaining further knowledge to enhance their game to the level so many of us have dreamed about since primary school.

Weber joined the Heat after spending most of season with the Heat’s NBA Developmental League team in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he averaged 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. He signed a 10-day contract with Memphis in March.

Weber provided the Rams with nearly four seasons of nothing but dedication to the program. At any given moment, you could turn on the game and find the VCU Bandit sliding across the floor and flying into stands to save a ball or swatting one out of the other team’s possession.

Havoc hasn’t, and probably won’t ever be, the same without him. Weber was the loudest and most energetic player on the team. Watching No.2, crutches and all, hop to the center court as the final buzzer went off and cut down the final part of the net last March when VCU won the A-10 tournament was a bittersweet moment.

In his college career, Weber was designated to the Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team on multiple occasions and earned the title as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year for three straight seasons. He led the nation in steals through his junior season in 2013–14 with a 3.46 average.

Before the heart shattering injury that tore his ACL and MCL in a loss to the rival Richmond Spiders, Weber was only 12 steals away from becoming the NCAA’s all-time career leader.

This past year, Daniels was hitting 48.7 percent (56-115) from behind the arc.

As a senior in 2012–13, Daniels started every game and raised his scoring average to 12.3 points per game.

He put his name in the record books on Jan. 2, 2013 when he shot 11-of-20 from three-point range en route to 33 points and 10 rebounds in a 109–58 win over East Tennessee State. The eleven three-pointers were a VCU and Atlantic 10 record for a single game.

He also set VCU’s single season record for three-pointers with 124, and finished with 251 in his collegiate career, which ranked second most in the program’s history.

During the Houston Rocket’s final possession in game three of the NBA playoffs against the Trailblazers, Daniels drained the game-winning three during his rookie season.

James Harden and Dwight Howard tried and failed three times on a high-screen situation. After Harden lost the ball that was picked up by Jeremy Lin, he tossed a hook-shot style to Daniels on the left wing.

It was Daniels’ third three-pointer in six attempts, the shots proving so clutch in a win that cut Houston’s first-round series deficit to 2-1 at the Moda Center.

At that point in his professional career, you probably didn’t know the name Troy Daniels unless you were a VCU fan. Now, a year later, he’ll be a player to watch during the tournament.

Timing is key for future opportunities and Treveon Graham has peaked at the perfect time in his rookie season with the Idaho Stampede.

The Freight Train spent the summer in the summer league with the San Antonio Spurs and was ultimately signed by the Utah Jazz, only to be waived and allocated to the Idaho Stampede as one of their affiliate players this season.

Graham has a tendency to take his time, soak everything in and then go for the kill. He did not enter VCU as a star, but he definitely left with that label.

Watching two former VCU Rams suit up against each other in the first round of the NBA playoffs and watching Graham grow and prosper as a key player in the D-league is reflective on VCU’s program.

Players are breaking records, getting tournament exposure and enhancing their skills enough to become NBA prospects.

Who knows, in a year, we might see MJ in a new uniform.

Staff Writer, Sophia Belletti

Sophia Belletti, Photo by Brooke MarshSophia is a sophomore print/online journalism major with a minor in gender, sexuality and women’s studies. She enjoys writing about current events and sports and hopes to one day be a sports reporter, covering soccer, basketball and baseball. You can usually find Sophia drinking way too much coffee and laughing at her own jokes. // Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

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