The improvements to VCU’s men’s basketball program in a post-Final 4 era are visible all around us. Immediately following the run came an expansion to the Siegel Center in the form of the beautiful new Tommy J West luxury suite addition, the first suites to be added to the arena since it’s construction and opening in 1999. After that have come the announcement and recent ground-breaking of the new $25-million state-of-the-art practice facility just behind the Stu on W Marshall St, a new set of luxury suites to open next season in two corners of the arena, not to mention an upgraded new center-hung video board that will accompany a slew of bells and whistles added to VCU’s home environment in time for next season. But perhaps the biggest upgrade, one that can in some ways be called an effect of all those other improvements, is a serious bump in recruiting talent.
VCU’s 2014 class will bring three official top-100 players (according to ESPN) and another top-100 caliber guard in Richmond native, PG Jonathan Williams. This follows a 2012 class that included two ESPN top-100s for a total of five that will be available on next season’s team, the highest ever at VCU (and none are named Weber or Graham, an even scarier thought).
Shaka Smart and staff are looking to build on that success and after hosting a slew of talented 2015 players throughout the past year are looking to continue to take advantage of VCU’s new recruiting clout.
Below is a list of some of the high-caliber targets that VCU will attempt to fill their three available roster spots with for the 2015-16 season.
Malik Beasley (Atlanta, GA)
6’4 185 G
VCU would love to land Beasley, but who wouldn’t? Currently the No.52 prospect in the 2015 class, the explosive guard is a high priority for VCU and like all the guards on our list, would provide some serious offense for future VCU teams. VCU offered Beasley back in April and remains a legit contender for the heavily-recruited prospect.
Tevin Mack (Columbia, SC)
6’6 185 F
VCU loses leading scorer (potentially VCU’s ALL-TIME leading scorer) Treveon Graham after this next season and Mack would help fill the void from his graduation. Mack is a very similar player to Graham in many respects and has worked his way to a No.65 ranking by ESPN for the 2015 class. VCU offered Mack this past April and a commitment from Tevin could be VCU’s most realist chance of landing a top-65 player based off current rankings.
Shawn “Levan” Alston (Haverford, PA)
6’3 170 G
Levan is currently ranked 81st nationally in the 2015 class by ESPN and is a combo guard who really knows how to put the ball in the hoop. The Haverford School baller has hosted VCU and has visited the school as well and is a very real possibility for the black and gold.
Kenny Williams (Chesterfield, VA)
6’3 175 G
The LC Bird product has steadily climbed the rankings and currently resides within the top-100 at No.84 according to ESPN. 247 Sports has VCU as Williams’ most likely landing spot which would give the Rams their highest rated local product since 1990 McDonald’s All-American, Kendrick Warren. Williams is pure shooter and has arguably the best stroke of all of VCU’s 2015 targets.
Kevin Dorsey (Fairfax, VA)
5’10 150 PG
Dorsey is long-armed, cat-quick and a defensive pest. Sound familiar? VCU loses Briante Weber after next season and the signing of Dorsey would replace some of that speed and attitude in the backcourt for the Rams. Unranked by ESPN but No.127 by Rivals, Dorsey holds a number of offers and would be an exciting pickup for Shaka Smart and Co.
Josh Reaves (Fairfax, VA)
6’3 175 G
Reaves is the 71st rated recruit of ESPN’s 2015 class and stands in the 6’3-6’4 range depending on your preferred website. He’ll polish his game at the legendary VA high school, Oak Hill Academy and holds offers from the likes of Maryland, Villanova and Georgetown to name a few. Another high-caliber guard that could end up on Broad St two Novembers from now.
Markis McDuffie (Jersey City, NJ)
6’8 180 F
One of the few forwards on the list, McDuffie is a high-upside recruit who has yet to crack the top-100 but could by the time he takes his talent to D1 hoops. McDuffie is a disruptive defender who would fit perfectly in VCU’s “havoc” system.
Trey Lowe (Ewing, NJ)
6’5 165 G
Lowe is a late-bloomer who has played his way into ESPN’s top-100 at No.93. At 6’5 (6’6 according to Rivals), Lowe has great size at the 2 but is still growing into his body. Lowe shoots the ball with range and isn’t afraid to operate in a little traffic as well. His size next two VCU’s long 2014 class would be a nightmare for future opposing A-10 teams.
Ernest Aflakpui (Radnor, PA)
6’10 195 C
Aflakpui is somewhat raw but has a potentially lethal combination of size and athleticism. A Rivals top-150 player, Aflakpui has offers from the A-10’s two Philly schools and would be a big pickup for the conference. The black and gold would perhaps prefer to play with him and not against him however, so he could be a potential big to end up in VCU’s 2015 class.