TWO TALKS – MELVIN & WILL

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Melvin Johnson addresses the audience at his VCU Criminal Justice TED Talk earlier this year.

Melvin Johnson addresses the audience at his VCU Criminal Justice TED Talk earlier this year.

We have two videos to share today, both educational, but with very different lessons. The first, the most important is Melvin Johnson’s criminal justice TED Talk from earlier this year. It’s important to remind everybody sometimes there’s more to the guys on the basketball court than just basketball. I love seeing student-athletes take part in things like this, and applaud the VCU Criminal Justice Program – which is terrific, as far as I can tell – for challenging these men and women.

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Today’s second video is a little more straightforward. Mike Litos sits down with Will Wade to discuss next season’s rule changes. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing Wade talk about basketball.

WILL VEGAS SPUR GRAHAM TO NBA?

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CIb7jZCWoAA7wswTreveon Graham, the second-leading scorer in VCU Basketball history, is hoping to find a home in San Antonio, via Las Vegas.

Graham, who was not selected in Thursday’s NBA Draft, will play for the San Antonio Spurs NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas July 10-20. He hopes to follow a path to the similar to that of former Ram Troy Daniels, who was not drafted in 2013, but managed to garner the attention of teams while playing for Charlotte during the Las Vegas Summer League. Daniels, currently a member of the Charlotte Hornets, has also played for the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves.

It’s unclear if Graham will also play in either the Orlando or Utah summer leagues, although it is not uncommon for a player to compete for multiple organizations during summer league season.

Below is the Spurs’ Vegas schedule, which strangely does not include the Carrot Top show at Luxor. But there’s still time. Meanwhile, NBATV will broadcast tons of summer league action again this year. The network has not published a schedule beyond July 11, but expect most, if not all, of Graham’s games with the Spurs to be broadcast.

UPDATE: Juvonte Reddic has announced he’ll play for the Brooklyn Nets’ summer league team in Las Vegas. I’ve updated the schedule with Brooklyn’s games. Reddic spent last season playing for two different teams in Italy.

UPDATE #2: I can’t update this post quickly enough. Bradford Burgess, who has been playing professionally in Belgium and Italy the last few years, as signed on to the Miami Heat’s summer team. He will play in both Orlando and Las Vegas.

The schedule below has been updated. Again.

VCU IN THE NBA SUMMER LEAGUE (All times listed as EST)

ORLANDO
Saturday, July 4
Miami vs. Indiana, 9 a.m. – NBATV

Sunday, July 5
Miami vs. Brooklyn, 5 p.m. – NBATV

Monday, July 6
Miami vs. Detroit, 5 p.m. – NBATV

Wednesday, July 8
Miami vs. L.A. Clippers, 5 p.m. NBATV

Friday, July 10
Championship

LAS VEGAS
Saturday, July 11
New York vs. San Antonio (Thomas & Mack Center), 4:30 p.m. – NBATV
Brooklyn vs. Cleveland (Cox Pavilion), 10 p.m.
Miami vs. Utah (Thomas & Mack Center), 10:30 p.m. – NBATV

Sunday, July 12
Milwaukee vs. San Antonio (Thomas & Mack Center), 6:30 p.m. – NBATV

Monday, July 13
New Orleans vs. Brooklyn (Thomas & Mack Center), 4:30 p.m.
Miami vs. Denver (Cox Pavilion), 8 p.m.

Tuesday, July 14
Portland vs. San Antonio (Cox Pavilion), 3 p.m.
Brooklyn vs. Chicago (Cox Pavilion), 5 p.m.
Miami vs. Boston (Cox Pavilion), 7 p.m.

July 15-20
Playoffs

SENIOR SITDOWN (THE FUTURE’S SO BRIGHT, BRI’S GOTTA WEAR SHADES)

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We recently had the opportunity to sit down with graduating VCU seniors Treveon Graham, Briante Weber and Jarred Guest to shoot a sort of all-encompassing video that looks back on their careers, as well as to the future. You’re going to have to commit roughly the same amount of time you would into watching a “Big Bang Theory”, but it’s worth it. In the past, you’ve only gotten snippets of what these guys were like, but here, you get a feel for them as people as never before. Let Briante Weber entertain you one more time.

WILL WADE MEDIA MINUTES

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VCU ALUM NAMED MVP AFTER BANANAS EUROCHALLENGE BUZZER-BEATER

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Former Ram Jamal Shuler, a fan-favorite for VCU from 2004-08 has carved out a nice professional career for himself overseas, with stops in France, Germany and Ukraine. This weekend, he picked up some nice hardware when his current team, Nanterre of France’s ProA league, won the EuroChallenge (it’s complicated, but it’s essentially the No. 3 championship tournament in Europe) on this crazy buzzer-beater. Shuler is No. 1 in green in this video.

That replay is a little inconclusive, but this angle appears a little more definitive.

To boot, Shuler was named MVP of the EuroChallenge Final Four after he averaged 14.0 points and 4.5 assists. Nanterre wins a promotion to the EuroCup next year.

An All-CAA First Team selection in 2008, Jamal Shuler scored 1,011 points as a Ram and ranks 11th in school history with 170 three-pointers.

An All-CAA First Team selection in 2008, Jamal Shuler scored 1,011 points as a Ram and ranks 11th in school history with 170 three-pointers.

Crazy as that was, it’s still not the nuttiest buzzer-beater Shuler’s been party to during his European career. Check out the absurd winner Shuler hit in 2011 with Vichy.

OF BLOCKS AND BOOKS…

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Mo Alie-Cox averaged 7.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and and 1.9 blocks per game in 2014-15. He will receive his bachelors degree in May.

Mo Alie-Cox averaged 7.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and and 1.9 blocks per game in 2014-15. He will receive his bachelors degree in May.

Editor’s note: This feature ran in the winter edition of the Ram Report. You can find the link to the full article below. 

Mo Alie-Cox is only a redshirt sophomore, but it can be said with some certainty that the best comeback of his VCU career won’t come on the basketball court. No, the rally he’s led in the classroom has been much better.

Once ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA, Alie-Cox was forced to sit out his entire freshman year. This summer, he’ll earn his bachelor’s degree from VCU in just 3 ½ years. Alie-Cox, who has quickly become a shot-blocking maven and fan favorite, also has two years of athletic eligibility remaining, and he’s exploring the possibility of using that time two earn not one, but two master’s degrees, one in criminal justice and the other potentially in coaching. It’s a remarkable success story for a student-athlete whose VCU career was marked by an early false start.

A conversation with Alie-Cox will reveal many things and sharply dismiss a number of misconceptions. A chiseled, 6-foot-6 giant with long, floppy dreadlocks, Alie-Cox is an imposing, physical presence on the basketball court. Off the floor, he is affable and unassuming. Unfailingly polite and matter-of-fact about his business, he’s as low-maintenance as they come. Despite his early academic misstep, it’s abundantly clear that he’s bright and articulate.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE

FROM SMART TO WADE: INSIDE THE VCU MEN’S BASKETBALL COACHING SEARCH

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Ed McLaughlin (left) introduces VCU Head Coach April 8 at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

Ed McLaughlin (left) introduces VCU Head Coach Will Wade April 8 at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

Thursday, April 2
The call from Richmond reached Ed McLaughlin’s cell phone at Mo’s Steakhouse in Indianapolis at 10:28 p.m. McLaughlin, in Indianapolis for the Final Four, was expecting the call, but the message was still a mystery. He was either going to enjoy a nice evening with colleagues or a long night of planning for the biggest decision of his professional career.

He was out the door within five minutes.

On the other end of line was VCU Men’s Basketball Coach Shaka Smart, who informed McLaughlin that he’d decided to accept the same position at Texas. Smart had just told his team of his plans and would be in Austin by the following day.

Despite the emotional demonstrations in Richmond, where fans gathered outside the Siegel Center in an attempt to convince Smart to stay, McLaughlin’s conversation with his now-former coach was businesslike.

“I congratulated him and said, ‘good for you’, and we talked about some logistical things,” McLaughlin said.

It was a quiet end to a week of rampant speculation in the media, a week where guesswork outpaced actual work. McLaughlin knew better. The real action lay ahead, not behind.

McLaughlin began organizing for what promised to be one of the busiest weekends of his life. Back in Richmond, Executive Associate Athletic Director Glenn Hofmann started calling VCU donors to inform them personally of the news. Meanwhile, Deputy A.D. Jon Palumbo, essentially in standby mode as Smart weighed his options, prepared to fly to Indianapolis to help McLaughlin conduct interviews.

The search to replace Smart, the most successful coach in VCU history, would begin the next morning in earnest.

While there was little certainty about Smart’s decision until late Thursday, McLaughlin and his staff had been preparing for this contingency for days, and in some ways, years.

‘The plan was in place,” McLaughlin said.

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LEARNING WILL WADE – MEDIA ROUNDUP

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New VCU Men's Basketball Coach made the rounds in a whirlwind 24 hours.

New VCU Men’s Basketball Coach made the rounds in a whirlwind 24 hours.

It was a whirlwind first day for new VCU Head Men’s Basketball Coach Will Wade. He completed the media car wash that included a throng at his press conference, then his own coaches show, plus in-studio appearances at other locations. He was truly a man about town. What did we learn on day one? Well, I listened to a bunch of his interviews in case you didn’t have the time. Some nuggets.

  • He’s obviously happy to be back. “One thing that happens when you leave here, you appreciate it more. You take for granted when you’re here sometimes the sellouts, how fanatical the fan base is. All those people at the press conference yesterday, half our road games in the Southern Conference didn’t have that many people at them.”
  • Wade originally hoped to become a world geography teacher and was once a substitute teacher.
  • One of his favorite memories from his first VCU stint was beating Drexel in the 2012 CAA Championship, one year after the Rams reached the Final Four with a senior-laden team. “I thought that really jump started the program in terms of consistency. That season we started out….we were on the bus on the way back from Charleston. I told one of the assistants on the bus, we’re going to be lucky to win 20 games with this crew.”
  • On keeping Havoc: “I think it gives us a national brand. When people think of VCU Basketball, they think of Havoc.”
  • He had plans to meet with incoming recruit Kenny Williams on Thursday.
  • His coaching staff will take shape quickly. If Wes Long, one of his assistants at Chattanooga, doesn’t get that school’s head job, he’ll join Wade in Richmond. Long, like Wade, is a Clemson grad. He served five seasons as head coach at Queens University in Charlotte.
  • In addition, Wade on plans on bringing a math student from Chattanooga that handled much of the team’s analytic data, likely as a graduate assistant.
  • He loves the food in Richmond. It sounds like Comfort is his favorite restaurant. Good choice.

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WADE’S WILL: A LITTLE CHAOS, A LITTLE HAVOC

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Will Wade was 40-25 in two seasons as head coach at Chattanooga.

Will Wade was 40-25 in two seasons as head coach at Chattanooga.

RICHMOND, Va. – Amid one of the most tumultuous weeks in VCU Basketball in some time, Will Wade restored order with a declaration of Havoc.

“Havoc still lives here!” Wade – the newly minted coach of the VCU Men’s Basketball program announced before 1,200 fans at the Stuart C. Siegel Center at an introductory press conference.

Change is afoot at VCU, but fans can still find comfort in some of their favorite, familiar things.

Wade was referring to the moniker for VCU’s aggressive style of play, coined by Shaka Smart, that helped steer the Rams to national prestige and five NCAA Tournaments in six years. Over the years, the terms VCU Basketball and Havoc have become synonymous. When Wade, who served as an assistant for the Rams under Smart from 2009-13, took over as head coach at Chattanooga in 2013, he brought with him many of the same concepts, as well the same marketing savvy. He called it “Chaos”.

Wade says the Rams will still play with the same aggressive flair for which they’ve become known, and they’ll still get out in transition. You don’t have to say goodbye to the full-court press. It’ll still be there.

Like Smart, Wade is cerebral with a heavy focus on analytics. Both men are big believers in the data of Ken Pomeroy, with Wade noting that he subscribes to additional Ken Pomeroy scouting reports on opponents and that he “had an analytics guy” at Chattanooga who will join him in Richmond in some capacity.

“I’m a spreadsheet guy,” Wade said with a smile.

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WILL WADE PRESSER HIGHLIGHTS

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Will Wade was introduced as the 11th coach in VCU Basketball history Wednesday.

Will Wade was introduced as the 11th coach in VCU Basketball history Wednesday.

Say hello to the 11th coach in VCU Men’s Basketball history, Will Wade. Great turnout at the Siegel Center today for Wade’s introductory press conference. There were somewhere around 1,200 in attendance, and it was more of a celebratory atmosphere than anything else. But that’s what we’ve come to expect out of this fan base. A great day for VCU Basketball.

Check out some highlights from today’s presser, plus thoughts from Melvin Johnson and Jarred Guest.

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Edit: The full press conference is now available as well.

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