Meet three of your VCU Rams, before they obliterate in Brooklyn

We talked to Melvin Johnson, Mo Alie-Cox, and Korey Billbury about stuff other than basketball. Because why not?

Stuff I know because other people tell me

Beginning today, the VCU Rams will begin defending their Atlantic 10 title by winning the A-10 tournament at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. Right now, the Rams share the conference title with Dayton, and they’re the reigning champs of the tournament, so hopes are high.

Stuff I learned about three of the players you’ll be seeing a lot of

Mo Alie-Cox

  • Is not as physically intimidating in person as you’d think he’d be, but when he shakes your hand, your hand will disappear and you will be briefly afraid that it is gone forever, but he releases it at exactly the appropriate time.
  • Would not reveal what we could expect from his hair at the tournament, which wasn’t braided at the moment. He was, however, appreciative of compliments on his very fancy stylings at the VCU/UR game a few weeks ago. And he didn’t NOT confirm that there’s an unofficial competition for best hair among the players.
  • Believes that the reason he and Melvin Johnson are my favorites (despite me knowing virtually nothing about basketball, no matter how much I try to watch it) is because “Melvin is just fun to watch.”
  • Doesn’t feel nervous about starting over at the bottom of a higher ladder, once he graduates. In reference to Briante Weber: “He’s making money.” Duh, I forgot. These guys don’t.
  • Often feels awkward at being so easily recognized. “Sometimes you just want to get dinner and chill,” he says. But he also doesn’t mind being approached. The fans and their enthusiasm were a pleasant surprise when he became a Ram.
  • Smiles bashfully every time I ask him a question about how great he is. And kind of every other question too.

Melvin Johnson

  • Doesn’t mind being on billboards. “I’m a much less secretive person than Mo,” he says. He takes a lot of his energy from the fans, and he absolutely will take a photo with you if you want. I did want, but I forgot, because he was so dang interesting to talk to instead.
  • Knew without even looking that Mo’s hair wasn’t braided.
  • Believes that the reason he and Mo Alie-Cox are my favorites (despite me knowing virtually nothing about basketball, no matter how much I try to watch it) is because “Mo and I just get really fired up about other players, and we get really excited.” Please note that no one has said, “Uh, because I block a ton of shots/make a record number of three-pointers.”
  • Believes that if I visit the Bronx, I should partake of a) West Indian, b) Italian, or c) Jamaican food, unless I want pizza, because that’s on every single block.
  • Is also charmingly bashful.

Korey Billbury

  • Is a dad times two!
  • Loves playing basketball, but wants to spend every possible minute with his daughter (age 3) and his son (six months).
  • Because he has those two kids (you may have seen them at Senior Night), he can totally relate to how button-burstingly proud his parents are of him. They flew out from Oklahoma for the last regular season game, and all of that meant a ton to him.
  • Is growing out his beard out of superstition. I told him my usual shtick about how my mom loves this certain baseball team and truly believes that they win or lose based on what she’s wearing, and don’t you think it’s annoying when people attribute the success you’ve achieved one night–due to months and years of hard work–to the fact that they’ve worn the same socks at every game? Korey Billbury, who is among the three nicest humans on Earth, responded with “Hey, I’ll take it, anything anyone wants to do to help.”
  • Did not make me feel like a jerk for the shtick about my mom, who is just trying to help her baseball team.
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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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