VCU Basketball 2017 – 18 is here folks. Let’s break down the roster and get to know your new-look Rams.
De’Riante Jenkins (Sophomore G)
One of just four players on this year’s squad to have previously donned the Black & Gold, Jenkins looks to play a significant role for the Rams in 2017-18. Although he was sidelined for nearly two months due to a foot injury he sustained in January, the Eutawville, S.C. product averaged 4.5 points-per-game last season in 20 contests while shooting 50 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from deep.
Mike’l Simms (Sophomore G/F)
Part of a pair of junior college transfers brought in by Head Coach Mike Rhoades over the offseason, Simms joins teammates Jonathan Williams and Khris Lane to form a trio of hometown Rams. The Highland Springs product averaged 14.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals-per-game for Kansas’ Cowley Community College last season, earning the Richmond native second team all-conference and all-region honors in 2016-17. Down the stretch, Simms averaged over 25 points-per-game in Cowley’s final eight contests.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound wing has the ability to score on all three levels, as evidenced by his 44/36/82 shooting splits last season. Simms has averaged 5 points and 6 rebounds in the Rams’ first two preseason exhibitions and looks to pick up steam as the season progresses.
Marcus Evans (Junior G)
Evans may be one for the future, but the former Rice University standout has Rams fans salivating. The highly-sought-after guard averaged an impressive 20.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 steals-per-game in his two seasons under Rhoades at Rice. A product of nearby Chesapeake, Evans has had quite a distinguished career. The 6-foot-2 combo guard has been twice named First Team All-Conference USA in addition to his 2016 C-USA Freshman of the Year Award. Evans set school and Conference USA freshman and sophomore scoring records after taking just 49 contests to rack up 1,000 career points.
Evans will sit out the upcoming campaign due to NCAA transfer regulations, but has two seasons of eligibility remaining. He will surely be one of the Black and Gold’s key players in the 2018-19 campaign and beyond.
Dylan Sheehy-Guiseppi (Freshman F)
A freshman walk-on, Sheehy-Guiseppi likely won’t get much significant playing time this season, however, he is one to keep an eye on for the future. He is athletic and has good size at 6’1. He’s a capable scorer and rebounder, and has a chance to develop into a nice piece for VCU in the coming years.
Malik Crowfield (Sophomore G)
The sophomore guard from Louisiana was one of the Rams’ best shooters from beyond the arc last season (35.6%), and he’ll look to continue that this year. He figures to get significant playing time in a backcourt that lost JeQuan Lewis and Doug Brooks. Crowfield has added some moves to his offensive game this offseason, will be asked to provide more scoring than last year and has sneaky athleticism, so this could be a breakout year for the Cajun Ram.
Marcus Santos-Silva (Freshman F)
One of the holdovers from Will Wade’s last recruiting class, Santos-Silva will add much-needed depth to VCU’s frontcourt. He’s a big body who can rebound and displays solid footwork. He’s also a great passer with good court vision, which can help lead to some easy buckets for the Rams. The Vermont native will likely see a decent amount of playing time for Coach Rhoades this season off the bench.
Xavier Jackson (Junior G)
The junior college transfer from Sheridan Junior College in Wyoming, Jackson led his team in scoring last season and adds versatility and depth to the backcourt. He averaged 13.2 points and shot 36% from 3, while also scoring 20 points six times. He’ll likely come off the bench for the Rams this season and add some scoring and shooting to the team.
Khris Lane (Senior F)
The Richmond native is home, and his arrival couldn’t come at a more perfect time. With VCU losing Mo Alie-Cox to the NFL and Ahmed Hamdy to a transfer, Lane’s arrival will give Mike Rhoades plenty of options when it comes to potential players to pair up with Justin Tillman down low. Not only did he average 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds for Longwood last season, but he also shot 35% from beyond the arc in his Lancers career and adds versatility to the Rams’ frontcourt.
Lewis Djonkam (Freshman F)
Djonkam is the tallest player on VCU’s roster, coming in at 6’9. He’ll likely earn playing time this season alongside Justin Tillman, Khris Lane, and Marcos Santos-Silva, and has been lauded by the coaching staff for his motor, toughness, and work in the weight room. Djonkam, who originally committed to Duquesne University, will bring much-needed size to a relatively short VCU frontcourt.
Tyler Maye (Freshman G)
Maye is an explosive freshman point guard who will fit in perfectly with Mike Rhoades’ system. He averaged 36 points per game during his senior season in high school, and will likely earn playing time behind Johnny Williams at the point guard position. While he’s a bit on the lighter side in terms of weight, his speed and explosiveness will help him tremendously this season and beyond.
Justin Tillman (Senior F)
The fuzzy-haired fan-favorite has big shoes to fill in 2017 following the departure of fellow big-man Mo Allie-Cox. However, if last season is any indication, Tillman will accept the challenge with open arms. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward nearly averaged a double-double last season with 12.2 points and 8.7 rebounds-per-game in 2016-17, earning the Detroit product Third Team All-Atlantic 10 honors. Tillman came on especially strong down the stretch, racking up 11 double-doubles and three 20-plus point performances against A-10 opponents.
After sitting out the Black and Gold game due to a sprained foot, Tillman put up 12 points, 3 rebounds and a block Thursday against Liberty. The high-flying forward will join fellow senior Johnny Williams as one of the Rams’ focal points in the upcoming campaign.
Sean Mobley (Freshman F)
One of just two remaining Will Wade recruits for 2017, Mobley is a dynamic forward with the ability to score on multiple levels. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward was a four star recruit by ESPN after leading Florida’s Montverde Academy to a 26-2 record and a place in the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals as a junior.
A stereotypical “stretch four,” Mobley provides a unique skillset fans of the Black and Gold have not seen in some time. His ability to nail the three-ball will give Rhoades another option down low to pair alongside seniors Tillman and Khris Lane. Mobley may not feature much to start the season, but is surely one to keep an eye on.
Jonathan Williams (Senior G)
Johnny Williams is another in a long line of fan-favorite point guards at VCU. Taking on the role of team leader following the departure of backcourt mate JeQuan Lewis in May, the Richmond native looks to have a big year for the Rams. Known for his acrobatic finishes, the speedy guard averaged 8.3 points and 3.1 assists-per-game as a junior. After turning the ball over just 48 times last year, Williams’ ability to pull the strings is a coach’s dream.
Through two preseason exhibitions, the 6-foot-1 floor general is averaging 9 points, 5 assists and 3.5 rebounds. Like fellow senior Justin Tillman, Williams looks to be one of the Rams’ focal points in the upcoming campaign.
Issac Vann (R-Sophomore F)
After sitting out all of last season due to NCAA transfer regulations, Vann is one of the more interesting pieces of this year’s squad. The Bridgeport, Conn. product had a prolific career at the University of Maine after averaging 16.4 points en route to America East All-Rookie honors in his 2015-16 freshman campaign. The high-flying forward excels at getting to the rim and drawing contact, as evidenced by his nearly six free throw attempts-per-game as a freshman.
In the Rams’ first two exhibitions, Vann has been a focal point for the Black and Gold after averaging 13.5 points and 4.5 rebounds this preseason. With his unique ability to score from anywhere on the floor, Vann looks to play a key role for Rhoades’ Rams.
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