Going back at least as far as his game-winning shot to beat Duke in 2007’s Big Dance, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Eric Maynor has been widely recognized as one of the best point guards in college basketball. Maynor is the Colonial Athletic Association’s returning Player of the Year. Eric Maynor working against George Mason’s Louis Birdsong, who […]
Going back at least as far as his game-winning shot to beat Duke in 2007’s Big Dance, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Eric Maynor has been widely recognized as one of the best point guards in college basketball. Maynor is the Colonial Athletic Association’s returning Player of the Year.
Eric Maynor working against George Mason’s Louis Birdsong, who fouled out
Through 20 games this season Maynor, a 6-3 senior, is averaging 22.4 points, 6.2 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals per outing. Now, for the third time this season he has been named as the CAA’s Player (or Co-Player) of the Week. Maynor directed the Rams VCU (15-5, 8-1 in CAA) to a pair of impressive victories; VCU beat Georgia St. there and George Mason at home.
Stemming from his effort on Saturday, in leading VCU to a 76-71 win over archrival Mason, Maynor passed Edmund Sherod (1978-81) to become VCU’s all-time assist leader. Sherod had 582; Maynor is at 587 and counting.
With 10 games remaining in the regular season schedule, if Maynor continues to score points at the same pace he’s on this season, he will finish his career as VCU’s all-time top scorer, too. Maynor is sitting at 1,640 points. Kendrick Warren (1990-94) finished his career with 1,858 points.
To bolster the notion that he deserves a feature article singing his praises, this story could go on draping Maynor’s gaudy statistics across the page. But this piece has more to do with the beauty of watching an excellent player stretching to reach his potential than it does with individual stats.
In spite of how highlight reels stress the most spectacular moments of play for the game’s brightest stars, basketball is a team sport. Moreover, it is Maynor’s progress within that larger context that has lifted him above the mere “talented” player. Highlights notwithstanding, Maynor is a better “team player” this season.
And, like its point guard the VCU team, itself, has been getting better … steadily better.
Former VCU head coach Jeff Capel recruited Eric Maynor from Raeford, NC., which is less than a half-hour from Capel’s hometown of Fayetteville, NC. Capel is now in his third season as the Oklahoma Sooners head coach.
“The first time I saw Eric, I knew he had the potential to be special,” said Capel. “There was something magical about the way he ran his team, and how he could get anywhere on the floor he wanted. He had a feel for the game and what was going on that is very rare in young players – his ability to not only see, but think three to four steps ahead, understanding game situations, etc. I also thought he had the ability to be a great on-the-ball defender because of his quickness and long arms. I’m really proud of the player that Eric has become under the guidance of Anthony Grant and his staff, and just as important, because of all the hard work Eric has put in.”
Thus, current Rams head coach Anthony Grant inherited Maynor. Since then it’s been Grant’s job to develop his gifted point guard. To say Grant has done well at that aspect of his work at VCU is an understatement.
Unlike some coaches who ask their players to be intense, but under control, Grant sets an example that Maynor and the rest of the Rams can see in every game.
Maynor follows his shot in the second half to score two of his 28 points in 38 minutes on the floor.
Maynor is now in the business of making his teammates better. He gets them the ball when it matters and where they want it. In the last three games Maynor has committed just one turnover, while dishing for 21 assists. That, while he has averaged 22.6 points in those three tilts. Typically, he gets four minutes of rest out of the 40 minutes of play.
Is he NBA-ready?
Don’t ask. All you’ll get from him are words about his next game. The Rams, to a man, have totally bought into their disciplined coach’s one-game-at-a-time philosophy. The NBA can wait, but don’t be surprised if Maynor keeps getting better.
Tonight VCU will host Northeastern (13-6, 8-1 in CAA) at the Siegel Center at 9 p.m.
– Words and photos by F.T. Rea
Update: VCU lost its first game at home this season: Northeastern 68, VCU 63. Click here for the story.