Saturday, May 22, 2010

Let's take a break from recruiting to talk LARRY SANDERS DRAFT MANIA!

While VCU is in great shape with the last 2 of their top 3 guard targets (Henry was the first) and we should get a commitment from at least 1 before June 20th, things have otherwise been somewhat quiet as the off season drags on. One nice thing that can keep VCU fans in basketball mode is the media buzz surrounding our very own junior Larry Sanders who has decided to forgo his final year of eligibility to go to the NBA.

He has already had a workout with the Indiana Pacers and most recently participated in the NBA Pre-Draft combine in Chicago. Here are Mr. Sanders' official NBA measurements:

Height: 6'9.25" barefoot, 6'10.5" with shoes
Weight: 222
Wingspan: 7'5.75"
Reach: 9'4"
Body fat %: 4.6%

Here is ESPNU's breakdown of Larry Sanders and some footage of him from the combine. He shows a pretty nice 3-point stroke hitting almost 50% of his shots behind the college line. Of course VCU fans know all about Larry's 3-point shot.

DraftExpress also sat down with Larry after the combine to ask him some questions about the process, getting advice from Eric Maynor and Amare Stoudamire as well as former VCU coach Anthony Grant on how to prepare and approach the draft process: has also done a minute long segment of highlights on Larry Sanders which can be found here.

Last week the Indiana Pacers worked out Larry Sanders in what was his first NBA workout leading up to the draft. The Pacers hold the #10 overall pick in the first round of this year's draft. Sanders was the only first-round prospect in a group that also included Sylven Landesberg (UVA), Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech), Mikhail Torrance (Alabama), Dominique Jones (South Florida) and Aubrey Coleman (Houston). Here are the highlights of the May 17th workouts in which Larry Sanders performed pretty well.

After the workouts interviewed Larry Sanders to get his thoughts on his first workout, advice from VCU teammate and OKC Thunder point guard Eric Maynor, his thoughts on how he might fit in with the Pacers, what he wants to show NBA executives during the draft process, and what his expectations of where he'll go in the draft are:

Several NBA fan sites and draft sites have articles out discussing the possibility of Larry joining their teams including the OKC Thunder, Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, and Boston Celtics. All of the major mock draft sites have Larry Sanders going in the first round ranging anywhere from 13th to 28th overall. It will be interesting to follow the draft process and we have to thank Larry Sanders for reinforcing VCU as a plausible program for NBA-caliber players. Both Juvonte Reddic and Pierria' Henry have stated that as an important selling point in passing over such programs as Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Maryland (in Reddic's case), and West Virginia, Dayton, Xavier, Arkansas, and Virginia Tech (in Henry's case). Let's hope we'll have more of these players giving us good news in the offseason leading up to the NBA draft. 2 NBA first-rounders in 2 years is pretty darn good for a mid-major program like VCU. Let's hope the trend continues! Good luck to Larry throughout the draft process!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Issiah Grayson to transfer...we have another scholarship ladies and gents

Rising sophomore point guard Issiah Grayson is leaving the VCU program and transferring in order to find a better situation for him to get good minutes. He was professional through and through and had a great demeanor on and off the court representing the program and school well. While things didn't work out for him on the court, he was professional about it all the way. I think I can speak for all Ram fans when I say 'Good luck and all the best in your future endeavors!'.

The Rams now have another scholarship and will not be looking to use it on just anybody. The staff has a good head start on 2011 and is in good shape with a number of prospects but will also keep the scholarship open in the event that a suitable mid-year transfer becomes available. Again the Report wishes Issiah 'Iggy' Grayson all the best and a bright future with whichever program he chooses to join.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

ESPN's Paul Biancardi gives VCU props on spring signing period recruits!

Paul Biancardi at ESPN wrote an article covering all the highlights of the late signing period. He mentions VCU in the 'Others Making Moves' section with regards to adding size in Juvonte Reddic and Darrell Haley:


Virginia Commonwealth

The Commodores also added good size during this late signing period in centers Juvonte Reddic (Winston-Salem, N.C./Quality Education) and Darrell Haley (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale). Reddic plays with great energy, has great athletic ability and can defend both post positions at 6-9. Haley has an impressive frame (6-10, 230 pounds) with broad shoulders and long arms, but needs to hone his offensive game.

The obvious error in calling us the Commodores aside (especially considering there is a VCU Rams logo right next to the blurb), it's nice press for VCU which was the only CAA school mentioned in the article.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

4-star 2011 prospect Shane Larkin has VCU as his leader

A post on the VCURamNation boards by MistaChill tipped Ram fans off to an update on Larkin by Dave Telep at Larkin is a 5'11 guard who hails from the same high school as Mississippi standout Chris Warren.

He has offers from VCU, Clemson (Purnell’s regime), Central Florida, South Florida and George Mason. “It’s still VCU, probably the hardest." Larkin said. “That’s the school I like the most.”

He’s visited Miami and South Florida. Duke, Alabama, UCLA, USC, Harvard, Marquette, Wake Forest, Florida State and Florida remain in touch with him.

Larkin is a 3 star (#20 PG), 4-star report (#76 in Rivals 150), and a 91 ESPN grade(#28 PG).

While the summer AAU session should heat up Larkin's recruitment, it is nice to see that we lead for his services right now.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Further thoughts on Pierria' Henry from the RTD and assistant coach Cliff Jackson

Tim Pearell of the Richmond Times-Dispatch got some material that didn't make it into the print article on Henry's commitment to VCU. He put the remaining material on his blog online. Here is the link.

It says that doctors told Henry he could have lost the leg or even died had he waited longer to have surgery. He won't be able to bear weight on the leg for the next 2 months and will be fully recovered in 6 months in time for the beginning of basketball season.

“It did make me appreciate things even more. I look at life differently now. You never know what tomorrow brings. You never know when the last time is you get to speak to anybody. I make sure my last words to everybody are, ‘I love you.’”

Thoughts from South Charleston assistant Cliff Jackson:

“In the long run, I think they’ve gotten themselves a pretty darn good player. The last two years Pierria’ has fiddled with football. He was getting some decent football looks, too. I just wonder how good Perry could be in a year-round, 12-month basketball situation.

“When he gets that individual attention, I just think his offensive skills will just get so much better.”

“He’s such a great defender. [Recruiters] liked his ability to play the point and score a little bit, but they were just amazed at how he defended and his willingness to play hard the whole time.”

“Probably his biggest strength is his competitiveness. He’s a go-getter and refuses to lose.”

“His leadership was very valuable this year. He leads by example. He’s not a very boisterous person. He just pretty much leads by his play and his competitiveness.”

Everything we're hearing seems to reinforce that this kid is a class individual in addition to being a great player. This seems to be a pattern for the types of kids Coach Smart is bringing in whereas Coach Grant would take chances on guys who were not so well-mannered and mature. Guys like DJ Haley (3.8 GPA), Juvonte Reddic (3.5), and Pierria Henry (3.25) seem to be solid in the classroom as well. All nice things to see if you are a VCU fan.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

ESPN updates Henry and regrades him as a 90 (#41 SG)

ESPN has updated Henry's profile to reflect his commitment, but also downgraded him to a 90(#41 SG) from a 92(#29 SG). I got to catch a screenshot of the 2011 commit list for posterity since he was the highest-rated ESPN guy to commit to VCU since ESPN started grading.

Nonetheless, his updated grade is still very impressive and Shaka and staff are completely ripping it up on the trail. The fact that he has brought two 90+ recruits into the fold for 2011 before any other team in the conference even got 1 is a pretty impressive feat. Here's what ESPN had to say regarding Henry's commitment:

Charleston, W.Va., guard Pierria Henry has given Virginia Commonwealth head coach Shaka Smart and his staff a verbal commitment, according to sources close to the situation.

The 6-foot-3 Henry had offers from Akron and Marshall and was garnering interest from West Virginia and Xavier before deciding on the Rams. Recruiting Coordinator John Stovall describes Henry as a "combo guard who is comfortable playing either spot."

"Pierria's got a good basketball I.Q. so he has no problem running a team. He is quick and strong enough to get in the lane and finish or dish it to a teammate and he's also a solid shooter out to 20 feet."

"Pierria was injured (thigh contusion) early on in the spring and may not play the rest of the travel circuit but overall this is an excellent get for the Rams," Stovall added. "He can play in almost any style but is at his best in an up-and-down system."

He joins Florida product Kasey Wilson in VCU's 2011 recruiting class.

More on Pierria Henry

In the day since Henry's commitment was announced, there have been a number of changes. Both Rivals and Scout updated their profiles to reflect his commitment with the former also rating him a 3-star recruit. He joins Kasey Wilson as a 3-star. The last 7 commitments to VCU have been Rivals 3-star recruits (from the classes of 2010 and 2011). There has also been a good amount of press on the event that outlines a lot of the background around Henry's commitment. I'll give a synopsis on the highlights of the material.

-Henry visited VCU in February with his grandfather Jerry Stephens. His grandfather was always partial to VCU who loved the staff, atmosphere, and program. He always asked when they would go back. Mr. Stephens passed away this month on May 3rd.

-Henry suffered a thigh contusion at the Pitt JamFest AAU event and had to go to a hospital in Pittsburgh for emergency surgery, the first staff to call him while in the Hospital was VCU.

-Henry's coach was somewhat surprised but did not question or sway his players decision but did state that he had offers from ACC, SEC, and Big East schools so VCU's staff obviously did something right.

-When asked Henry said West Virginia, Xavier, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, and Dayton had offered him.

-Henry committed to VCU because of the support his grandfather gave. He feels the coaching staff will be father-figures to him, something he lacked growing up after his father left when he was a small child. He also cited the ability to get to the NBA from VCU as a selling point.

-Henry has a 3.25 GPA and has qualified academically.

-His coach Vic Herbert says he's the premier defender in the state and takes pride in his commitment to defense and rebounding, something that will allow him to contribute immediately at the college level.

Here are some the better articles out there on his commitment as well as thoughts from Henry and his high school coach Vic Herbert.

Richmond Times-Dispatch article:

Charleston Daily Mail:

Charleston Gazette:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kasey Wilson's ESPN Profile Updated to a 91!

To go along with awesome news of Pierria Henry's commitment to VCU (a 92 ESPN recruit), the first commit from the 2011 class Kasey Wilson has been bumped up from an 89 to a 91 and the #25 PF in the 2011 class as well!

Shaka Smart and staff are just outdoing themselves and if anyone thought 2010 was a great class, 2011 already looks better if ESPN is any indication! Congrats to Kasey Wilson!

Updated Kasey Wilson ESPN profile:

(credit goes to mwalvior on the VCURamNation boards for the find!)

Pierria Henry Commits to VCU!

The Rams have secured a HUGE commitment from 6’4, 186 pound combo guard Pierria Henry (incorrectly listed as Perry Henry on several sites) out of South Charleston high school in West Virginia. He is a Big East level player who sported a number of Division 1 offers including West Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Xavier among others. ESPN gives Henry at a 92 grade which would make him the highest-ranked recruit according to that service that VCU has garnered a commitment from since ESPN started their recruiting service. He was a two-sport standout for the Black Eagles starring at wide receiver and defensive back in football. Henry led them to 2 straight state championships in the sport and was named MVP in the state championship game this year . He’s no slouch on the basketball court either, scoring his 1000th point as a junior on February 11th. He was named Mountain State Athletic co-Player of the Year (with Wake Forest commit Chase Fischer) and 1st team All-State West Virginia. He was recently named MVP of the All-Ohio Nike Cup AAU tournament, leading his WV Wildcats 17U team to the title with 21 point, 9 rebound game in the final. Henry can do it all averaging 16.2 points, 8 boards, 6 assists, and 5 steals per game this past season.

Rivals Profile: 3 stars, offers from West Virginia, Xavier, Virginia Tech, VCU, Marshall, Ohio, Akron, Cleveland State, and Delaware.

ESPN Profile: 92 grade, considering Akron, Marshall, West Virgina, Xavier, and Virginia Tech.

Scout profile: unrated, offers from West Virginia, Xavier, Akron, and Marshall.

What makes his achievements in both sports all the more impressive is the fact that he comes from a tough family situation and despite his hardships has thrived. His father left him and his 4 siblings when he was just a child, leaving his mother working 2 jobs to keep the household afloat. His brother is sitting in a jail cell for allegedly shooting a man and Henry has had to grow up quickly and become the man of the house for his sisters. Things got so bad at home that his mother finally relented and let him go live with his girlfriend’s family to get him out of the negative environment surrounding his home. Without the money to pay for college, Henry’s flair for the athletic opened new doors towards completing a college education. The hardship of his life has given him toughness, heart, and desire that can’t be learned on the basketball court or the turf. He is one the hardest working players on the football field and was the leading rebounder on his team as a 6’4 sophomore guard. Henry’s hard work is not just limited to the athletic arena, as he also sports a GPA above 3.0 as well. While he’s a great player on the court, Henry looks to be an even more remarkable individual off of it.

An unfortunate injury during the AAU season sidelined Henry as he developed a blood clot in his right leg after being kneed in the thigh at the Pittsburgh JamFest AAU tournament at the University of Pittsburgh. It was the second injury after developing a deep thigh bruise in the Nike Cup tournament in Columbus the week before. The blood clot required immediate emergency surgery and so he underwent a number of surgeries to take care of it. While he is expected to make a full recovery, the timetable for recovery from such an event is anywhere from 3-6 months. This means that Henry will be unable to play in both AAU tournaments this summer and football in the fall. While Henry is a division 1 football prospect, he had not received any firm offers although many coaches were looking at him at the wide receiver position. With his recovery time impeding him from playing football this fall, basketball is the way to go for Henry.

Is anyone else thinking Jesse Pellot-Rosa here? Henry has all the makings of a tough, hard-nosed guard who can put up points in a hurry but also battle among the trees in the post to grab valuable rebounds. With offers from VCU, West Virginia, Xavier, Virginia Tech, Akron, Ohio, Cleveland State, and Delaware, Henry has been recruited by a wide variety of schools and ended up choosing the Rams. His ultimate goal is to go to the NBA in order to provide for the family and mother that have worked so hard their whole lives to get by: "That's why I keep working hard every day to get to the pros. That's my main thing; get my mom a nice home and a car that will work. Let her sit down and relax and enjoy life. Right now, she can't do that. She's been working ever since I can remember." Sound like a good kid to you? South Charleston AD Jason Redman agrees: "For him to go through the things that he's gone through and be the quality kid that he is ... Let's put it this way: I have a two-month old son, and I hope he grows up to be that kind of quality person." While it sounds like Shaka Smart and the rest of the VCU coaching staff have picked up a heck of a basketball player, it also looks like they’ve picked up an even more impressive individual in the process.

Henry joins 6’7 forward Kasey Wilson as the 2nd VCU commitment in the 2011 class. There are 2 spots remaining. I think I speak for all of Ram Nation when I say, "Welcome to VCU, Pierria Henry!"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Kasey Wilson and Florida Elite 17U win AAU State Tournament!

6'7 2011 verbal commit Kasey Wilson is keeping up the strong play in AAU as he and Florida Elite won the State AAU tournament at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida today. They breezed through pool play yesterday, blowing out opponents to the tune of 66-30, 68-39, and 55-38. Today the team faced stiffer competition but beat each opponent they faced to get to the finals and Team Stat led by Austin Rivers (the #1 SG prospect in the class of 2011), Darius Perkins, Trevor Lacey and a number of other talented players. Austin Rivers didn't play in the final and Florida Elite killed Team Stat in the final to take the State AAU Tournament championship at the 17U level. Wilson continued to impress and had a great weekend!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

6'2 combo guard Michael Neal visits VCU today

6'2, 175-pound Michael Neal (Oak Ridge Military Academy) has been on the Ram staffs' radar for some time now. The staff has evaluated him as a mid to high-major caliber player that has flown under the radar for the most part, largely due to a wrist injury suffered in the second game of the season. He was a part of Northern Guilford's 3-A North Carolina State Championship team in 2009. He then followed Coach Stan Kowalewski along with several Northern Guilford players to Oak Ridge Military Academy. He was the starting point guard before his unfortunate wrist injury very early this season and as a result many schools were unaware of him. Oak Ridge is a pretty good team with players like Jay Canty (Xavier), Jacob Lawson (high major prospect), and Chris McLain (Southern California-football). While the injury was unfortunate for Neal, it played to VCU's advantage as they had identified his potential early on. They parlayed their aggressive recruitment of Michael into a visit to VCU today. Neal had a great visit today and the Rams look to be in great shape with Neal now. While some other CAA schools had started to inquire about him, the only programs likely beating out VCU for Neal would be a high major school at this point just because of how much longer we've been recruiting him than everyone else.

Neal is a good-looking guard who plays well above the rim and has impressive athleticism and vertical for his size. While he has been underrated by a number of services, his potential is quite high and is largely due to under-exposure due to transferring schools and his subsequent wrist injury. For now, it looks like Neal would be a great fit for the Rams and Neal seems to agree. The staff is working hard at keeping up the momentum from the strong 2010 class going into 2011!

Freddie Jackson- 2011 6'3 PG VCU prospect

Freddie Jackson is an under the radar 6'3 point guard whose first offer is from VCU. Dave Telep just saw him recently at the North Carolina Eastern Regionals playing against another Ram target in Chris Wilson (Terry Sanford)and raved about his game. He went from unranked and unknown to a 3-star Scout recruit. Jackson scored 18 points and dished out 10 assists in his matchup with Wilson. In his junior season, Jackson has averaged 14.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 7.7 assists a game. He was subsequently invited Dave Telep's Carolina Challenge where he went against some of the best players in North Carolina and acquited himself very well. This is a guy that VCU would love to have and would be a great fit. 6'3 point guards from North Carolina have been good to VCU lately.

VCU has really been setting up camp in North Carolina and is making it a focus area for recruiting. With the investment of time and effort into that region, VCU has a foothold with a lot of North Carolina prospects which is exciting as the basketball talent (especially in eastern North Carolina) is grossly underrated. Here's what Dave Telep had to say about Jackson upon seeing him for the first-time at the regionals.

“The best thing about Freddie Jackson is that he is a late bloomer,” Telep said. “He has developed at his own rate without any outside influences."

“As a basketball player, I really like his feel for the game, and the best thing he does is his mid-range game and his ability to pass the basketball. I was so happy he came up to the Carolina Challenge and got to play against the best guys in our state, see what it was like and show how good of a player he is.”

It's pretty incredible that the VCU staff has been able to lock down on under-recruited prospects and get on them early. The VCU coaching staff beat both Telep and the UNCW coaching staff under Benny Moss (both in their home states mind you) in finding out about Jackson. While the new coaching staff at UNCW is trying to get in with him now, VCU has been on him for much longer and is tough to beat. The staff has made North Carolina a priority and it shows. Dave Telep definitely knows to pay more attention to him now. He missed on Eric Maynor and VCU snagged him, he may not have missed on Jackson, but we might get him anyway thanks to some strong work by the excellent coaching staff at VCU.

“Talking with his high school coach, Freddie really started to accept a bigger role as the year went on and really started to grow into the role of being the best player on the team,” Telep said.

“The other thing is location. I remember driving home from the East Regional thanking God that I saw Freddie Jackson that day and really kicking myself that I didn't know much about him before then.”

Don't worry Dave, you're not alone there.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More Video Highlights of Juvonte Reddic from GymRatInsider

I came across some more footage of Juvonte Reddic online. These video clips include a game against St. Mark's and former VCU prospect and Iowa commit Melsahn Basabe. Juvonte's Quality Education Academy team came out on top in double overtime. Juvonte Reddic put in 12 points in this game. There is also a second game against Mack Academy where Juvonte shows some nice inside game. Since this is an 11 minute video clip, I will give you the times at which Juvonte's plays are shown (he is #32):

2:28- 15 ft jumper

3:26- Reddic blocks Basabe's layup attempt

3:35- Reddic posts up Basabe and gets the turnaround short jumper to go

3:59- turn around jumper in the post

7:57-8:15- a nice sequence where Juvonte is surrounded by 3 Mack Academy players, goes up and is blocked, but gathers himself and dunks the ball with authority surrounded by blue shirts, a turn around hook from the low block, capped off by a nice two-hand slam

8:25- takes the ball to the basket and finishes with a lay-up.

8:34- backs his man down and lays it in

They also have a top 10 plays of the week, and Juvonte's dunk surrounded by 3 Mack Academy players was the #4 play.

Juvonte shows nice bounce and athletiism as well as the ability to take the ball inside or knockdown the 15-foot jump shot. He should be a good addition to the frontcourt for VCU.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Daily News Record article on VCU's top CAA recruiting class

Mark Selig over at the Daily News Record put a subscription article on VCU's class being the CAA's best. The DNR is based out of Harrisonburg, VA. While the article is subscription only, it does give a little teaser as to the contents of the article.

Last offseason, Virginia Commonwealth lost point guard Eric Maynor, a two-time Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year, as well as head coach Anthony Grant. This offseason, all-league player Larry Sanders announced he would declare for the NBA draft. Could these costly departures signify a fleeting success for VCU - the winningest CAA men's basketball team for the past four seasons? Hardly.

It's nice to see other publications start to recognize the special class VCU has put together for 2010.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Fab Five Indeed! Rivals gives 3-stars to every member of the 2010 recruiting class!

Many had noted on the VCURamNation boards that Darrell Haley had not been reflected as committed to the Rams on Rivals and had no stars, while Veal and Brandenberg's profiles reflected having committed to VCU but were similarly unranked. Well Jerry Meyers updated their profiles and ALL of the 2010 class are 3-star recruits. That's right folks Rob Brandenberg, Reco McCarter, Toby Veal, Darrell Haley, and Juvonte Reddic are all Rivals 3-star recruits! This only serves to reinforce the fact that Coach Shaka Smart is a stud on the recruiting trail. The future is bright indeed! updates Juvonte Reddic and Reco McCarter's profiles

Juvonte Reddic's profile was updated and he is now a 3-star recruit and the #35 Center in the nation.

Reco McCarter's profile was also updated and he took a bit of a hit, dropping from the #38 SF to the #50 SF but still a 3-star recruit. It's the first time since 2007 that VCU has signed 2 consensus 3-star recruits (Scout/Rivals) when Joey Rodriguez and Ed Nixon signed on to play for the Rams. DJ Haley and Rob Brandenberg remain unranked and Toby Veal is a 2-star (he was a 3-star recruit out of high school when he committed to Colorado).

*EDIT*: After corresponding with National Director Dave Telep, he explained that Brandenberg and Haley are not unranked but that there's a bug in their system for guys who are not number ranked. Haley and Brandenberg are 2-star guys according to Telep and their profiles will reflect that shortly.

Former Ram Target Davante Gardner commits to Marquette

Davante Gardner is a 6'8 senior out of King's Fork in the 757 (the same school where Jaquon Parker hails from, if you remember he committed to ODU before reneging on his commitment to play at Cincinnati). Gardner is following in Parker's footsteps and heading to the Big East to play for another former C-USA member in Marquette. There was definite recruiting interest from VCU this past season and Gardner was seen at VCU games at the Stu this past season as well. The big man was named 1st-team All-Tidewater as well as 1st-team All State at the end of the season. It is unknown exactly how serious Gardner was about VCU and vice versa, but VCU had already filled out all the spots for the 2010 class well in advance of Gardner's decision.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Interview with VCU signee Darrell 'DJ' Haley

With 6'11 big man Larry Sanders leaving for the NBA draft and seniors TJ Gwynn and Kirill Pischalnikov graduating and moving on (as well as the subsequent dismissal of rising junior Terrance Saintil), the Ram frontcourt was suddenly very thin with only rising senior Jamie Skeen and walk-on redshirt sophomore David Hinton returning in the frontcourt next year. The staff had to address the gaps in the frontcourt and came up big with the signings of some highly-touted big men, including an intriguing 7-footer out of California in Darrell 'DJ' Haley. Haley's father Darrell Sr. played in the PAC-10 for California in the early 80's and DJ has picked up a lot from his dad. He runs the floor extremely well for his size and has soft hands, finishing around the basket but also possessing a nice perimeter stroke as well. ranked Haley as the #8 Center on the West Coast and's Joel Francisco named Haley as one of the top sleepers out west:

One of the top sleepers out West is 6-9 senior Darrell Haley (Palmdale, Calif.). He has a terrific lengthy frame and good hands. He is a tad mechanical and is still very raw, but the upside is there.

During his visit, Haley measured out just shy of 7 feet at 6'11 3/4". He will bring much needed size and athleticism to the frontcourt as well as a tireless work ethic. Along with Juvonte Reddic, Haley makes up one of the bigger and more athletic frontcourt recruiting classes at VCU in a while. DJ was gracious enough to spend some time to do an interview with the Report:

RRR: On behalf of the Ram Nation I’d like to express our excitement at your decision to be a part of the future of VCU basketball.

RRR: You were pursued by many schools from many different levels, what made VCU the right fit for you in your mind?

DJ: VCU is the right fit for me because I felt like I was at home as soon as I stepped on campus. The team was great, the campus was welcoming, and the coaching staff is amazing. I feel that I can become the best person I can possibly be on and off the court at VCU.

RRR: Over the course of your recruitment, which schools did you have offers from?

DJ: I had offers from Iowa State, Wyoming, Drake, VCU(of course lol), and had interest from USC, Colorado, Cornell, and Princeton.

RRR: When you ultimately chose to commit to VCU, which schools did you have offers from or have visits scheduled for?

DJ: When I committed to VCU, I already had it narrowed down to them and Drake. I visited VCU and then went to visit Drake a week after. I committed the day after I got back from Iowa.

RRR: Which NBA or college player would you say your game most resembles and why?

DJ: I would have to say Pau Gasol. I like to get to the bucket but also have some finesse to my game.

RRR: What do you think your greatest strength as a player is?

DJ: I think my greatest strength is my defense. People say I move pretty well for my height, and I am pretty good at staying on the ground and contesting shots.

RRR: What role do you see yourself playing at VCU next year?

DJ: I'll play wherever the coaches and my team needs me. I'm all about teamwork.

RRR: There was a lot of buzz around campus when you came to visit and the staff made it clear they really wanted you at VCU. What did you do while on your visit in Richmond?

DJ: Basically, they showed me the city and the campus. I really enjoyed going to the Music and Engineering departments as well as seeing the game. I met some pretty important people and hung out with the team. Oh and we had some delicious food. I might have gained some weight on the trip haha.

RRR: California is a long way from Virginia! When did you start hearing from the VCU staff about playing at VCU and who was the primary person in your recruitment?

DJ: Well, I started hearing from VCU from Coach Wade. He had been recruiting me back when he was at Harvard and gave me a ring one day when he was already at VCU. That's when it started.

RRR: What did you think of the fans and atmosphere at the Siegel Center when you visited for the Akron game? Did you hear your name chanted by the fans? (they planned that one in advance)

DJ: The fans are too awesome. I also enjoyed the band. They both ROCKED! The atmosphere of the game felt more intense than the UCLA vs. USC game I went to. And everybody was telling me that the fans were not as crazy as they usually are that game. I actually did not hear the chant coming from them. I did not find out until after the game. I was really into the game haha.

RRR: Your success off the court and in the classroom has been well-publicized as well. Rumor has it you're interested in working for NASA one day?

DJ: Haha. Well I try to excel on and off the court. NASA is definitely where I want to be. I have a fascination with technology especially with a focus on the aerospace/aeronautical side of things. My goals are actually to help develop new ways and strategies for space travel as well as help develop new ways of living from a technological perspective.

RRR: Anything else you wanna say to Ram fans?

DJ: I am looking forward to finally getting on campus!!! I will strive to be the best player I can possibly be as well as the best person. GO RAMS!!!

RRR: Thanks so much for your time Darrell and we can’t wait to see you take the court for VCU!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Update on 2011 Verbal Commit Kasey Wilson

6'7 PF Kasey Wilson decided early that he wanted to become a Ram, committing to Shaka Smart and VCU early in the spring. He visited VCU February 6th and watched the ODU game in front of a packed, sellout crowd of 7,500. He finished the year off strong for the North Port High Bobcats and was named the team MVP for the 2009-2010 year. He also set a school record for most points in a game this season when he dropped 36 points in one contest. He picked the Rams ultimately over Ohio University and Head Coach John Groce, a former Ohio State assistant who has shown himself to be a shrewd evaluator of talent (his team, ironically also the Bobcats, knocked off the 4th-seeded Georgetown Hoyas in the NCAA tournament this year). While Kasey Wilson originally hails from Columbus, Ohio (along with 2010 commit Rob Brandenberg), he ultimately decided VCU was where his heart is, and lucky for us, because he is one heck of a player!

With the high school season over, AAU season began and Wilson led his Florida Elite 17U team to the AAU Disney Easter Classic at the Disney Wide World of Sports Milkhouse and Jostens' Center from April 2nd-4th. 12 courts at one location with non-stop basketball featuring some of the top teams in the country. The Florida Elite 17U played in the Red Division and won the title despite finishing 2nd in their pool where they took out the Jacksonville Lee Bulls (the former AAU team of current Ram Ed Nixon).

According to Florida Hoops, Wilson and 2012 guard Michael Frazier led the way for the Elite. Here's what they had this to say about Wilson's performance:
Wilson, a 6’7 forward from North Port (FL) HS and a Virginia Commonwealth commit is a player we thought would eventually move to the wing. However, he is very athletic and plays so well against bigger guys inside that it may not be necessary. Wilson surprises with his ability to get off the floor quickly and block shots, catch lobs for dunks in half-court sets, and throw down violent dunks on the break. He displays solid fundamentals in the half-court and rarely makes mistakes with the ball.

Next up was the Bill Hensley Memorial Run 'N Slam taking place this weekend, a tourney having one of the longest days of the year as far as AAU is concerned. Yesterday, 14 consecutive hours of games were played at the Spiece Fieldhoue in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This time Michael Frazier (2012) made the most noise for Florida Elite, but Wilson also played well. Florida Elite 17U won their first 5 games on Friday and Saturday including a 58-56 overtime nail-biter to get the 17U team to the Elite 8 this morning. Wilson and Florida Elite battled hard in the 9:30 game this morning, but came up 2 points short of advancing to the Final Four. Despite the loss, Florida Elite played well and Kasey Wilson continues to give Ram fans reasons to be excited about the 2011 class. Wilson is quite the pickup for Shaka Smart and the VCU staff, although that seems to be par for the course if the last several months have been any indication. The fall signing period can't get here fast enough!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Interview with VCU signee Reco McCarter

Reco McCarter was the 2nd commitment for Shaka Smart in the 2010 class and is one of the headliners of this year's recruiting class. My write-up during the Fab Five series covered him in detail. McCarter was a Rivals150 prospect for much of his recruitment (128 then 147 during his junior year) and is ESPN's highest ranked CAA recruit with a grade of 91(#32 SF). He boasted offers from a plethora of major-conference schools and according to Shaka Smart had visited Oklahoma and Georgia before ultimately picking VCU. He has been a 1st team 1A selection out of North Carolina the past 2 years running in a division that included John Wall, CJ Leslie, Dezmine Wells, Ian Miller and a bunch of big name players. Reco is peer among them and has Ram fans all over the nation excited to see what he brings to the court next year. He is a 6'7 small forward with NBA range on his 3-pointer and while streaky, he can burn you from the outside or take it to the rack and punish the rim. His dunk on consensus top-15 national prospect and NC State commit CJ Leslie has made him somewhat of an internet sensation garnering over 10,000 views since December. Reco was gracious enough to spend a few moments with the Report to answer a few questions.

RRR: On behalf of the Ram Nation I’d like to express our excitement at your decision to be a part of the future of VCU basketball.

RRR: You were pursued by many schools from many different levels, what made VCU the right fit for you in your mind?

RECO: To be honest, I really fell in love with Coach Smart and Coach Wade. I felt like they were young guys who were on the rise but all they needed were MORE talented guys like Myself, Rob, DJ, J.Reddic, and Toby.

RRR: Over the course of your recruitment, which schools did you have offers from?

RECO: Clemson, N.C State, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Virginia Tech (besides VCU).

RRR: When you ultimately chose to commit to VCU, which schools did you have offers from or have visits scheduled for?

RECO: The same ones I narrowed it down to Georgia, Oklahoma, and VCU.

RRR: Which NBA or college player would you say your game most resembles and why?

RECO: I'm me....I don't think there is really no one my game resembles cause I just flat out PLAY!

RRR: What do you think your greatest strength as a player is?

RECO: My quickness and my ability to make plays on the offensive and defensive end! Like I said I just flat out PLAY!

RRR: What role do you see yourself playing at VCU next year?

RECO: Whatever role Coach Smart and the rest of the coaching staff wants me to play... ;)

RRR: North Carolina has been a real hot-bed for bringing out great basketball players. How did competing against guys like CJ Leslie, Rodney Purvis, Brian Richardson, Jeremy Jeffers, John Wall etc. help prepare you for the next level in college?

RECO: Playing against those guys I developed the attitude that I have to play hard night in and night out!

RRR: When did you start hearing from the VCU staff about playing at VCU and who was the primary person in your recruitment?

RECO: The beginning of summer '09...Coach Smart was my primary recruiter! That's how I knew that VCU was serious about getting me there!

RRR: You wore 32 in high school and Brandon Rozzell currently sports 32 for VCU. What number do you think you’ll wear at VCU?

RECO: I chose to wear number 25!

RRR: You attended the last couple of VCU games at the Siegel Center during the CBI. What did you think of the atmosphere and fans at VCU?

RECO: I love it...I can't wait to get the crowd pumped up next year!

RRR: Anything you want to say to VCU fans?

RECO: I can't wait to meet all you guys personally and VCU fans will be very excited about the fab five coming in next year! We're looking to win and bring MORE excitment!

RRR: Thanks so much for your time Reco and we can’t wait to see you take the court for VCU!

Video Interview of Juvonte Reddic by WXII12 on committing to VCU

Winston-Salem's local news station WXII12 covered hometown school Quality Education Academy's successful year sending 3 players to 'big-time Division 1 programs'. Ram commit Juvonte Reddic headlines the interview which also includes Stargell Love (Baylor) and Aaron Bowen (Georgetown). WXII12 caught up with Reddic, Love, and Bowen as well as interviewing CEO Simon Johnson and QEA Head Coach Isaac Pitts on QEA and how the players balance academics and basketball.

On signing his LOI with VCU: "It's probably one of the highlight moments of my life."

On his future: "I wanna go to college all 4 years so I can just get a degree, just in case I don't make it to the league. So I'm gonna fall back on it, but my goal is to do well in college and later on be drafted into the NBA."

The feature also mentioned that all 3 players including Juvonte worked hard in the classroom and have GPA's over 3.0.