It’s been a wild offseason for all of us, but perhaps the wildest for the four-man 2017 class that had committed to play their college ball at VCU under Will Wade before he opted to take a job at LSU. Of that group, only two followed through on their commitment to the school, one of which being 6’9 Florida native Sean Mobley. We got a second to catch up with the skilled big man before he makes his move to campus this summer to find out just how these crazy couple of months have been for a young man destined to make a huge splash in the black and gold.
Ram Nation: For starters, I’m curious how VCU first hit your radar. I had heard something about Joey Rodriguez and his involvement before he was even back on staff here, that he had coached you during the summer or something. Can you clarify how you first heard from VCU’s previous staff (Wade & Co.) and how that relationship began?
Mobley: I first heard from VCU over the summer when they came and watched my games in the Adidas gauntlet. I work out at UCF with one of their old point guards, Mike O’Donnell, who knew Joey. Like you, I also heard the recommendation went from Mike to Joey and then from Joey to Coach Wade. Joey, Mike and myself are all from the Central Florida area.
Ram Nation: Coach Wade had reportedly been offered the Vanderbilt job last year and as a young guy, his name was a hot one in this industry when he returned to VCU. Did you have any concerns or thoughts that there was a realistic chance he would leave VCU after two years and how surprised were you when the LSU change went down?
Mobley: I never thought that Coach Wade would leave VCU. My family and I were told that he had a contract through 2023 and that he wasn’t going anywhere. I heard the rumors that he was an option for the LSU job but I wasn’t concerned at the time. When I did hear that he took the job I was shocked, I figured that I would have had a heads up that he was bolting.
Ram Nation: After that situation calmed down and VCU hired Mike Rhoades, can you talk about that process, the discussions you had with your family and what ultimately led to you deciding to stick with VCU?
Mobley: When we found out that Coach Wade left, I wasn’t sure what my family and I were going to decide to do. We knew we wanted to talk to Coach Rhoades and get a feel for him and what he had planned for the future of VCU and myself. After talking with him, both myself and my parents felt like Coach Rhoades was the coach for me, not only on the court but off.
Ram Nation: Of the Rams’ original four-man class, you and Marcus Santos-Silva have recommitted while Lavar Batts and Mayan Kiir opted to go elsewhere. With that, I’m wondering if you can touch on any bit of the discussions you had with Marcus on your decisions to recommit to the black and gold and how maybe the bond between you two has developed over this process.
Mobley: When the news got out the Coach Wade left, Marcus was the one to get a group chat between the four of us and Kevin to get a feel for what everyone thought. When I saw he did that, I knew he was the kind of guy you want to be on the court with. With us being the only two to recommit, our bond between us and the rest of the team can only get stronger.
Ram Nation: What have you learned in this brief bit of time about Coach Rhoades and how he wants to play? How do you think you fit in that style?
Mobley: Coach Rhoades wants to play fast, get into you on the defensive end and put up a lot of shots. I feel like I am a versatile player with a smart basketball IQ who can do a little bit of everything, so whether it’s grabbing a rebound and going myself or being a mismatch problem on the wing or block. I can defend pretty much any position and with the guidance of Coach Rhoades and the rest of the staff the only way is up from here.
Ram Nation: Let’s talk about your game for a second. I’ve watched a lot of highlights of you but also a ton of full-game footage and at 6’9, you’re as skilled of a big as I’ve seen come to VCU (truth-be-told, probably the top of the list….no pressure). With that, I’m curious about two things: 1) have you always been one of the taller kids in your class because you play like a guard who hit a late growth spurt and 2) who do you model your game after? Because I haven’t seen many guys your size, at least at VCU, who can dribble, pass and hit the deep ball like that.
Mobley: I have not always been one of the taller guys in my class up until about 7th grade. During my 7th to 8TH grade year, I grew about 5 inches and the next year I grew 3. Growing up I always played guard and when I hit my growth spurt I got thrown into some post situations.
I try to model my game after a guy named Ioannis Papapetrou. When basketball first got serious for me, he was the guy I could call a big brother and look up to. I was still in 8th grade while he was a senior committed to Texas. I remember watching him play and wanting to be just like him. He now plays for the Olympiacos of the Greek Basketball League.
Ram Nation: How do you think playing at Montverde, one of the nation’s absolute best high school programs, has prepared you for DI basketball?
Mobley: Playing at Montverde has helped me prepare for college because of the intensity and competition levels. Every day was a battle for playing time and going up against future pros helped me become stronger mentally and physically. This past season, we spent the mornings of our spring break conditioning on the track and afternoons in the gym. I’ve heard multiple people say that our practices were harder than some colleges.
Ram Nation: VCU loses a good bit of production this offseason, losing four 20-minutes+ players and potentially losing Ahmed Hamdy (13.2 mpg) as well (editor’s note: Hamdy did leave). That however creates a lot of opportunity for guys like yourself. How do you think you can best help next year’s VCU team dance for the eighth consecutive season?
Mobley: I believe I can help on both ends of the floor. Coach Rhoades knows how to get us to the dance, so I’m going to do what he says and get the job done.
Ram Nation: What do you know about Richmond, VA? Outside of basketball, what has you the most excited about this next step in your life journey some four states north of your Florida home?
Mobley: I don’t know much about Richmond, but I do know there is good food and I love the culture. I’m most excited about starting the next steps and life and seeing where VCU can take me.
Ram Nation: While you’ll be calling Richmond home, you’ve also got a trip to Maui on the schedule for next season and a couple of big home games against the likes of UVA and Texas (not to mention ODU, which you’ll learn about these next four years). Which game on next year’s schedule are you the most excited about?
Mobley: I’d say that I’m most excited about the Virginia game because I think they’re the toughest team on the schedule and that game is going to be for the state.
Ram Nation: Lastly, you fired us all up with that “Ram Nation or No Nation” talk when you recommitted (pretty sure that ends up on a t-shirt, by the way). Any parting words to get Ram fans even more excited than they already are for next season?
Mobley: I’m ready to start this journey at VCU and play in front of the best fans in the country. Let’s make a run at the tournament