For the second consecutive year, VCU Ram Nation will enter a team into the 64-team summer hoops tournament simply known as “The Basketball Tournament” (or TBT), with hopes of lifting the championship trophy and the winner-take-all $2 million check.
Last year we took an eight-man group of former Rams into the tournament, winning two hard-fought games in Charlotte to advance to the “Super 16” in Philadelphia where we lost to Overseas Elite, the defending champs and eventual winner, yet again (back-to-back champs). Our banged up and thin first edition lacked the depth and size to overcome the champs in Philly’s Philadelphia University gym, so we rebuilt our team in hopes of a better shot at giving Ram fans more games to watch this July.
— VCU Ram Nation (@VCURamNation) May 1, 2017
Eric Maynor – Maynor is new to our team but needs no introduction around these parts as VCU’s all-time leading scorer and assist man. VCU’s G.O.A.T. spent several years in the NBA after being called as a first round draft pick in 2009, then saw his NBA career derailed with an ACL injury. Maynor however has bounced back and has carved out a professional career overseas, averaging 12.9 points and 5.5 assists for Varese in Italy’s top pro league. He’ll also help replace the loss of last year’s top TBT Ram Nation point guard, Darius Theus, who was unable to join us this year due to a job he recently accepted.
Brandon Rozzell – Rozzell was an explosive scorer at VCU and for team Ram Nation last summer, igniting a huge comeback in our first ever TBT win (22 points in the win). Rozzell is coming off a Swedish league championship where he led his Lulea team with 17.3 points and 4.2 assists per contest. Rozzell’s ability to get hot from deep gives our team one of several deadly players from distance that can quickly break games open for our team heading into this year’s tournament.
Juvonte Reddic – Another newcomer to our TBT team but a familiar face to Ram fans, Reddic will be one of our frontcourt upgrades after getting eliminated in a game in which we were out-rebounded by 14 and outscored in the paint, 38-22. Reddic has been sharpening his skills this year in Greece, averaging 11.6 points and 5.8 rebounds as Kolossos’ starting center. His 6’9 frame and athletic ability helps improve our situation down low after fielding a team limited in size this past year.
Denzel Bowles – I just mentioned we got bigger this offseason, 6’10 255 Bowles being our largest addition. Name sounds familiar but you can’t recall why? Well, Bowles wasn’t a VCU grad but a graduate of JMU. The last time Ram fans saw him he beat our Final 4 team at the Siegel Center on senior night. That year Bowles averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds against the Rams and was easily one of the most talent bigs VCU faced all season. Bowles most recently teamed up with VCU in the form of a professional pairing with Jesse Pellot-Rosa in Puerto Rico. Bowles played last season in the TBT with 757 team, Seven City Graint. The Grain was eliminated in their first matchup but not before Bowles dropped 16 points in 20 minutes of action (against a VERY good HBC squad).
Jamie Skeen – VCU’s only player to earn an NCAA all-tournament team selection returns for his second season with team Ram Nation. Last year Skeen was our “truest big” but saw his knee swell after a 14-point, 9-rebound performance in our first game, limiting his time and production the rest of the way. A healthier Skeen will join our upgraded frontcourt and won’t be responsible for carrying such a heavy load for us in the paint, making him that much more effective for team Ram Nation during the summer of 2017.
Romeo Travis – Again, while we’re on the subject of front court help, Romeo Travis checks in as a very helpful addition. A 6’7 240 bruiser, Travis is perhaps most known for his time as high school teammate of friend Lebron James but went on to have a successful college career as a hometown star for the Akron Zips, earning 2007 MAC Player of the Year honors before traveling overseas where he has played professionally to this day, most recently as the starting power forward for French Pro A team Strasbourg where he averaged 9.2 points and 5.5 rebounds this past season.
Dion Wright – Another big man because you can’t have enough of those, Ram fans may remember Wright from his time playing against us as a power forward/sometimes center for the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. Wright averaged 16.7 points and 9.1 rebounds in 2016 as a part of the Bonnies 2016 A-10 co-champ team before going to Japan where he averaged 12.9 points and 6.4 rebounds in just 21.4 minutes per game as a rookie professional hooper. Wright stands at 6’7 but like Jamie Skeen, can occasionally step back to hit a defense-stretching three, making him a dangerous piece for this year’s Ram Nation TBT team.
Jamal Shuler – Keeping things fresh, former VCU sharpshooter and current overseas pro Jamal Shuler adds a dangerous three-point weapon to team Ram Nation. Shuuuuuu is coming off a successful season with French Pro A champs AS Monaco where he averaged 11.7 points and 3.4 assists as the starting shooting guard. Shuler teams up with former backcourt mate Eric Maynor for the first time since Shuler graduated from VCU in 2008.
Jesse Pellot-Rosa – In many ways “Pellot” (as he’s called by his teammates) has acted as co-GM this offseason, helping Ram Nation land two of our top additions in Bowles and Reddic, most recently teaming up with the former JMU big in Puerto Rico where both play professionally. JPR is currently averaging 8.1 ppg with Bayamon while hitting 37% of his threes and 56% of his shots overall.
B.A. Walker – Bobby Anthony joins us for his second season with Ram Nation after scoring 18 points on 7-9 shooting in Ram Nation’s Super 16 exit to Overseas Elite last year. B.A. averaged a team-high 13.1 points and 4.6 assists this past season with French Pro team, Saint Chamond. His ability to play either guard position makes him a very valuable piece to this year’s team and a likely big-time contributor to the stat sheet.
Jordan Burgess – Our team just wouldn’t be the same without a Burgess on the court. Thankfully, after a recent achilles surgery that sidelined brother Bradford, Jordan Burgess gets set to take the floor for team Ram Nation after recently finishing his second degree from VCU. Burgess started under two former VCU coaches and brings a grit and toughness to our team, giving Ram Nation a versatile player needed to lock down opposing teams’ top scorers. Burgess literally played all five positions at VCU (anyone remember him running the point against Tennessee? Or playing center on occasion?) and will be a versatile piece for this year’s TBT team.
Reggie Williams – A VMI grad and two-time NATIONAL NCAA leading scorer, Williams joins us for the second season after attempting to play for us early last year, but unable to really go due to a groin injury he sustained in last year’s NBA summer league. A healthy Reggie however should be a scary prospect to opposing teams. Williams averaged 18.3 points this past year in the NBA D-League, hitting over 41% of his threes, making enough noise for a temporary call-up to the New Orleans Pelicans. A 6’6 physical player with that type of stroke and scoring ability will be fun to watch. His leadership is also a hugely underrated dimension of his game.
Joey Rodriguez – Rodriguez served in a “player/coach” role last season but will streamline his workload this season.
Bradford Burgess – Burgess was easily one of our top-two players on last season’s team but due to injury will have to be more of a leader off the court than on this year.
Corey Coffer – A VCU grad, Coffer assisted last season’s team in an unofficial capacity. The Princes Anne High School head coach will be a nice official addition to our coaching staff this season.
VOTE FOR US HERE: https://www.thetournament.com/teams/ram-nation-vcu-alumni
Note: the winning team’s fans split $200,000 of the $2 million tournament winnings
DONATE HERE TO HELP US COVER OUR EXPENSES: https://www.gofundme.com/ram-nation-tbt-2017
— VCU Ram Nation (@VCURamNation) April 23, 2017