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Ace assist man should have Ram fans excited

It’s early, but freshman Ace Baldwin has had an EXTREMELY impressive “true point guard” opening to his college career with a 44% assist rate in this week’s stacked Crossover Classic tournament. Yes, this is only a three-game sample, so don’t go hanging jerseys yet, but, if you want to know how truly good that is, it’s a better rate than the best assist season from all of Eric Maynor, Joey Rodriguez, JeQuan Lewis, Darius Theus and Briante Weber, just to name a few impressive VCU point guards Ram fans may remember.

So on that note, I was curious to see who Baldwin was finding on these assists, who was on the receiving end of the Baldwin passes that played a role in helping VCU move to a perhaps surprising 2-1 start with such a new roster this 2020-21 season.

v Utah State (7 assists)
Bones 3
Jamir 3
Levi layup
Bones 3
Hason “jumper”
Vince 3
Bones layup

v West Virginia (6 assists)
Bones layup
KeShawn layup
Corey layup
Corey dunk
Bones layup
Corey layup

v Memphis (6 assists)
KeShawn layup
Vince 3
KeShawn layup
Bones 3
Bones layup
Hason dunk

Total Assists (Per Game)
19 (6.3)

Assist Result (% of assists)
made threes 6 (31%)
layups/dunks 12 (63%)
other 1 (5%)

I think what has me the most excited as a pure numbers geek, is Ace finding teammates for all these easy buckets (layups and dunks). While the threes are nice, the high percentage baskets are how you can get a more consistently good offense…or well, dependable offense — easier to make an uncontested layup than an uncontested three, thus avoiding a “live by the three, die by the three” offense.

Simply averaging four of those per contest is extremely helpful, especially considering our assists leader last season was Marcus Evans at 2.8 total assists per game.

VCU finished 54.7% of their two-point baskets in this week’s tournament against teams that finished 1st nationally in two-point defense last season (Memphis), 35th (West Virginia) and 28th (Utah State). A 54.7% two-point percentage offense was good for 16th nationally last season, so for the Rams to post that number THIS EARLY against that group of opponents with all these new players….is extremely promising.

And so is VCU’s freshman true point guard, Ace Baldwin.

VCU School of the Arts (BFA '07) and Center for Sport Leadership (M.Ed. '10) alumnus, Mat has followed VCU basketball since the Sunbelt days when he'd...