The pieces of HAVOC! 4.0

A coach and his system are only as good as the players on the court. HAVOC! 4.0 found success because of the talent and depth of VCU’s roster.

VCU-Pieces-Front

Four seasons after becoming VCU’s head coach, Shaka Smart finally had a roster this season that was 100% designed to play HAVOC!. Despite making the leap to the Atlantic 10 and playing a more challenging non conference schedule, Virginia Commonwealth University went 27-9 en route to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament.

A coach and his system are only as good as the players on the court. Coach Smart had some serious talent and depth this season, and he wasn’t afraid to regularly go ten players deep. VCU’s player stats are impressive, but they are even more impressive considering the distribution of playing time. Saint Joseph’s played six players over 28.9 minutes per game while Juvonte Reddic led VCU at 27.9 minutes per game.

The loss of Troy Daniels and Darius Theus hurts, but a closer look at the Ram’s roster suggests that VCU has every reason to be optimistic about next season.

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Seniors

#30 Troy Daniels

#34 David Hinton

#10 Darius Theus

Juniors

#11 Rob Brandenberg

  • 24.1 MPG, 10.4 PPG, 1.4 APG, 1.3 SPG

Rob Brandenberg was VCU’s X-factor this season, and he won’t relinquish that role during his senior campaign. The Rams were a perfect 17-0 when Brandenberg scored 11+ points, and at times he was an unstoppable scorer. More importantly he was a great defender. He finished the season with 45 steals–a number that will likely go up next year in the absence of Darius Theus.

Looking Forward: Rob Brandenberg is poised to have a great senior season. He is a great two-way basketball player with a complete game, and he should start every game next season. If he can build on the confidence that he regained this season, he will be one of VCU’s most important defenders and could hit 65+ 3-pointers in the absence of Troy Daniels.

Highlight: Rob Brandenberg went a perfect 5-5 from 3-point range when VCU topped #19 Memphis 78-65 in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

#33 DJ Haley

  • 8 MPG, 1.9 PPG, 1.9 RPG

There was a time, in 2011, when fans debated who would be better, Juvonte Reddic or DJ Haley. Reddic quickly silenced that discussion, but Haley’s 7-foot frame remained valuable. Still, Haley watched his playing time plummet from last season, he fell in the depth charts, and he eventually left the team. Haley will be missed, but the upsides of Justin Tuoyo and Jarred Guest are tremendous.

Highlight: Haley had six points, six rebounds, and two blocks in VCU’s 73-54 thumping of Alabama.

#15 Juvonte Reddic

  • 27.9 MPG, 14.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.4 SPG, .569 FG%

In his first three seasons, Reddic has 1,025 points, 601 rebounds, and 113 steals. This season he shot the sixth best shooting percentage in VCU history, and his 17 double-doubles ranks 7th all time at VCU. There is a reason Shaka Smart calls Juvonte Reddic VCU’s most talented player.

Looking Forward: Juvonte Reddic has the tools to be the A-10 player of the year next season. His post moves and defense are great, and his face up game could earn him a spot in the NBA after next season. Juvonte Reddic and Treveon Graham should be the best front-court in the A-10.

Highlight: Reddic had five double-doubles in the course of six games–including fifteen points and seventeen rebounds in an overtime win against Saint Joseph’s.

Sophomores

#23 Jarred Guest

  • 10.5 MPG, 2.1 PPG, 2.5 RBG

Jarred Guest has the tools to be a rebounding machine, but he fouled 8.6 times per 40 minutes this season. The fouls limited his ability to build any momentum, and his role was limited until the end of the season. He finally started putting the pieces together, including a six-rebound performance against Massachusetts and a six-rebound performance against Akron.

Looking Forward: If Guest can limit his fouling, then he will be an invaluable reserve for the Rams next season.

Highlight: Guest scored 17 points on 6-7 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds in only 16 minutes of action against Stetson in November.

#21 Treveon Graham

  • 27.6 MPG, 15.1 PPG 5.8 RPG, 1.6 APG

Treveon Graham was one of the nation’s most improved players last season. He thrived as an undersized power forward, and the combination of his 3-foot shot and 3-point shot was deadly. During the recruiting process, Coach Smart told Graham he could be the all-time leading scorer at VCU. Eric Maynor, who holds the record at 1,953 points, scored 620 points in 1,669 minutes in his first two seasons. Graham has 796 points in 1,599 minutes in his first two seasons. Graham is scoring 0.498 points per minute to Eric Maynor’s 0.371.

Looking Forward: He could be Juvonte Reddic’s biggest competition for A-10 player of the year next season. Graham scored double-figures in 31-of-36 games, and he’s a solid rebounder. If Graham maintains last season’s efficiency while seeing a modest bump in playing time, he could post some extremely gaudy stats.

Highlight: Graham scored 26 points on 8-12 shooting in VCU’s 78-65 win over #19 Memphis in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

#5 Teddy Okereafor

  • 8.3 MPG, 1.3 PPG, 1.6 APG, 0.6 SPG

Like Reco McCarter in 2010, Teddy Okereafor was VCU’s top rated recruit in 2011. Both players struggled to find roles at VCU. The university has not officially announced anything, but CBS is reporting Teddy Okereafor will transfer out of the program. #5 played double digit minutes in 10 of VCU’s first 14 games, but he only reached that plateau three more times this season, and he sometimes didn’t play at all.

Looking Forward: The potential departure of Okereafor opens up minutes for a freshman to significantly contribute at the point guard position behind Briante Weber next season.

Highlight: When VCU was getting outplayed at every position on the court against Michigan in the NCAA Tournament, Teddy Okereafor single handedly broke up a four-on-one fast break. It was by far the most impressive play of his career.

#2 Briante Weber

  • 20.9 MPG, 5.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.7 APG, 2.7 SPG

Briante Weber’s motor and athleticism make him a stat sheet stuffer. Despite playing less than 21 minutes per game, Weber grabbed a school record 98 steals, and he already ranks 5th all-time in steals at VCU. He made improvements in multiple facets of his game but most importantly he learned to play with discipline on defense and poise on offense while also maintaining his signature intensity.

Looking Forward: After the departure of Darius Theus and the potential departure of Teddy Okereafor, Briante Weber could lead VCU in minutes next season. His stat lines have the potential to be totally ridiculous, and he could even break the NCAA record for steals. Briante Weber’s first two seasons were defined by defense, but his final two seasons are going to be defined by offense and his ability to play point guard.

Highlight: Briante Weber opened the season with a school-record 10 steals in 18 minutes against FGCU. The 15th seeded Eagles later became the lowest seed to ever make the Sweet 16.

Freshmen

#12 Mo Alie-Cox

Mo Alie-Cox was the most intriguing piece of VCU’s 2012 recruiting class. Physically he brings an entirely new dimension to the Rams, but he was deemed a partial qualifier because of high school academics and was forced to sit out the season. While unable to practice with the team, he did finish with a 4.0 his first semester in addition to earning the “Black History in the Making Award” from the Wilder School. He will finally join the team next week.

Looking Forward: At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds Mo Alie-Cox is a force. His role could be limited next season, but five minutes is all he will need to wear down an opponent’s power forwards. He will technically be a sophomore, but he can earn a fourth season of eligibility by completing 80% of his coursework by the end of his fourth year.

#20 Jordan Burgess

A certain amount of excitement surrounds top-100 recruits. Add in the last name Burgess and even casual Rams fans start to get interested in recruiting. Like Mo Alie-Cox, Jordan Burgess was deemed a partial qualifier. He was forced to sit out the season but he could practice with the team.

Looking Forward: Burgess was ready to contribute from day one. He already has a year of practice and could be an important player for the Rams next season. His size and 3-point shot should earn him a lot of Troy Daniels’s minutes. He will technically be a sophomore, but he can earn a fourth season of eligibility by completing 80% of his coursework by the end of his fourth year.

#32 Melvin Johnson

  • 17.3 MPG, 6.9 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.8 SPG

Almost overnight, Melvin Johnson went from playing basketball in green and orange to black and gold. The late addition of the former Miami signee was crucial to softening the blow of the losses of Jordan Burgess and Mo Alie-Cox–plus the Rams picked up a Bronx product that can flat out score. From day one, Johnson’s floater–dubbed “The Melvin”–was automatic, but it was his improvement from 3-point range that was impressive. After suffering through a midseason 0-16 shooting drought from range, Johnson went 13-24 (.542) from beyond the arc over the next nine games.

Looking Forward: After joining the Rams very late in the summer and struggling with an injured hip pointer at the start of the season, Melvin Johnson is poised to make big improvements this offseason. The combination of his floater and 3-point shot already make him a serious offensive weapon. This season he needs to develop into a defender that can help fill the void left by Darius Theus. Coach Smart has compared the trajectory Johnson’s career to Treveon Graham. If Johnson can make that kind of leap, he will be one of the scariest scorers in the A-10.

Highlight:Johnson scored a career-high 18 points in as many minutes in an 86-68 win over Massachusetts.

#31 Justin Tuoyo

  • 7.2 MPG, 1.1 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 0.4 BPG

It’s tough to watch Justin Tuoyo and not be excited about his future, but his freshman campaign was mostly limited to the bench and Franklin Street Gym. He looked uncomfortable most of the season, and he fouled 8.1 times per 40 minutes, but the departure of DJ Haley opened up minutes for the Georgia native. He responded. He fouled less, defended better, and showed how much he had improved even in the course of a few months.

Looking Forward: Tuoyo is the team’s best shot blocker, and he is the Rams’ first big man capable of knocking down 3-pointers since Jamie Skeen. He will see minutes next season, but Tuoyo probably won’t be an important player until the 2014-15 season when Juvonte Reddic is no longer part of the team.

Highlight: Days removed from losing DJ Haley, Tuoyo played key minutes in the A-10 tournament against Saint Joseph’s, and he knocked down an important 3-pointer in the three point victory over the Hawks.

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Photo by: Will Weaver

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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