Ryan Grube, Contributing Writer
Kaitlyn Fulmore, Contributing Writer
Men’s basketball is gearing up for the approaching season nearly eight months after their last game and without a significant portion of last season’s offense.
The team took a hit when leading scorer and rebounder Marcus Santos-Silva transferred to Texas Tech in late April. Then the Rams lost 71% of their scoring production when five players graduated in May.
Coach Mike Rhoades’ bunch heads into their 2020-21 schedule with a revamped roster oozing with young talent. Underclassmen make up more than half of the team: four freshmen and five sophomores. The Rams welcomed two transfers this season as well, and both are eligible to play.
#0 – Jamir Watkins – freshman forward
Freshman forward Jamir Watkins will join VCU’s freshman class on the court this season. The former three-star recruit out of Trenton, New Jersey, helped lead Trenton Catholic Academy to a state quarterfinals appearance and led the Burlington County League with an average of 23.5 points. His accolades earned him a Third Team All-State selection by NJ.com following his senior year. The 6-foot-7-inch, 205-pound forward was named Trentonian Area Player of the Year and Mercer County Tournament MVP in 2020.
#1 – Adrian ‘Ace’ Baldwin – freshman guard
Freshman guard Adrian “Ace” Baldwin became VCU’s highest recruit of the 2020 class with a four-star rating, according to ESPN. Baldwin began his college career fresh after a lucrative four-year run at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. He was named First Team All-State his final three years in high school, and he was a three-time MVP of the Baltimore County Tournament. The 6-foot, 190-pound point guard averaged 11.1 points, 7.3 assists and 3.0 steals per game as a senior.
#2 – Mikeal Brown-Jones – freshman forward
Standing at 6 feet, 8 inches, freshman forward Mikeal Brown-Jones chose the Rams over Penn State, Temple, Villanova and South Florida. Brown-Jones headlined an IMG Academy squad that posted a 50-8 record in his two seasons with the team. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native helped lead the sports academy to a Geico High School Nationals Championship and a 31-1 record in 2018-19. Brown-Jones connected on 61% of his field goals, including 39% from deep, and averaged 17.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in his senior year.
#5 – Nah’Shon ‘Bones’ Hyland
VCU’s highest returning scorer, sophomore guard Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, posted a scoring average of 9 points –– the highest by a VCU freshman since the 1998-99 season –– and became the first Ram on the A-10 All-Rookie Team since Melvin Johnson in 2013. The Wilmington, Delaware, native set a single-season program record for 3-pointers made by a freshman: 63 in 2019-20. Hyland played in all 31 games as a freshman, making nine starts, including the final seven contests of the season for the black and gold. Hyland recorded a season-high 21 points in a win over St. Bonaventure on Jan. 18.
#10 – Vince Williams Jr. – junior forward
Junior forward Vince Williams Jr. dealt with hand and ankle injuries during his sophomore campaign, appearing in 21 games with three starts. The 6-foot-6-inch, 220-pound forward averaged 4.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game in 2019-20. His best outing of the season recorded 11 points, seven rebounds, and three steals in an 84-82 win over LSU. Williams notched double-scoring figures three times, finishing with a season high of 13 points in a narrow loss to No. 5 Dayton.
#11 – KeShawn Curry – junior guard
A highlight reel waiting to happen, junior guard KeShawn Curry appeared on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays on two separate occasions in 2019-20 with dunks against Jacksonville State and George Washington. Curry averaged 16.3 minutes of play in 31 games off the bench, recording an average of 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds last season. Curry collected a career-high six rebounds in a close loss to Tennessee.
#12 – Jimmy ‘Tre’ Clark – sophomore guard
After seeing his playing time increase throughout his freshman season — appearing in 17 games off the bench — sophomore guard Jimmy “Tre” Clark will be a reliable teammate this season. Clark recorded double-digit minutes of play seven times during the conference portion of the Rams’ schedule last season. The Covington, Georgia, native notched a season-high of five points in the black and gold’s final contest of the 2019-20 season, a loss to Davidson on March 6. Clark averaged 2.1 points and 0.8 rebounds, and capped off a promising freshman year with 14 total assists.
#13 – Corey Douglas – senior forward
As one of only two seniors on the roster, senior forward Corey Douglas’s ability to run the floor and block shots will help during the upcoming season. Standing at 6-foot-8-inches, the Louisville, Kentucky, native blocked 24 shots in the last season, second-most on the team. He shot just under 50% from the field last season, averaging 3.5 points. Douglas, who started three games last season, could break his way into the starting rotation.
#15 – Arnold Henderson VI – sophomore guard
Freshman guard Arnold Henderson VI is set to be a preferred walk-on this season. During his freshman year, the Richmond native played in a total of seven games and logged 14 total minutes of play. He made his college debut last year against Jacksonville State, which included his first career 3-pointer. Henderson also converted on two field goal attempts against George Washington last season.
#20 – Hason Ward – sophomore forward
Sophomore forward Hason Ward’s shot blocks and ability to score from wherever on the court will be something to look out for this season. Ward, the second tallest player standing at 6-feet-9-inches, played in 24 games last season and averaged 3 points, two rebounds and 7.1 minutes. With his 7-foot-4-inch wingspan, Ward blocked a total of 15 shots last season. The St. Thomas, Barbados, native logged a career-high 10 points against George Washington last season.
#21 – Jarren McAllister – sophomore guard
Sophomore guard Jarren McAllister returns to the Rams for a second season after seeing increased play time during conference games. The former three-star recruit known for his high motor and athleticism was ranked the No. 9 player in the Virginia 2020 class by 247Sports.com. Last year, McAllister had a season-high 8 points against St. Bonaventure, along with two steals.
#33 – Josh Banks – freshman guard
Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, freshman guard Josh Banks is one of four freshmen joining the VCU roster. He chose the Rams over Temple, Providence, Virginia Tech and other universities. Banks had an impressive repertoire in high school; he was in the 2020 First Team All-State selection and was the two-time SoMECK7 Conference Player of the Year. Banks’ offensive scoring ability ranges from outside and inside the arc with an average of 24 points his senior year.
#34 – Levi Stockard – senior forward
Arriving at VCU after playing 100 collegiate games at Kansas State, senior forward Levi Stockard III received a waiver in September from the NCAA allowing him to play this season. The 6-foot-8-inch forward averaged 3.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 16.6 minutes and had a career-high 17 points against Saint Louis last season. With a shooting percentage of .500 from the field and .686 from the line, fans are hopeful Stockard will anchor VCU in the offense.
#35 – Brendan Medley-Bacon – junior center
Standing tall at 7 feet, 1 inch, all-conference transfer and junior center Brendan Medley-Bacon joins the Rams after two years at Coppin State. Medley-Bacon received a waiver from the NCAA on Nov. 4 to play this season after proving to be an outstanding shot-blocker and rebounder in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. He averaged 12.5 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game, blocking 82 shots in 61 matches. This season, fans should keep an eye on the four-time Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference defensive player of the week.
The Rams will begin their season with a matchup against Charlotte on the University of Tennessee’s campus in Knoxville on Nov. 26.