Ram fans have been following Coach Shaka Smart’s recruiting closely since last summer. With the returning talent he has and the new to come, these fans could be looking at, what could be, Shaka Smart’s best team yet.
Coach Smart recruits high speed, strong ball handling and high energy players. In the past, this has occasionally overshadowed precise shooting skill. Yes, VCU has made it to the NCAA tournament four out of the five seasons Coach Smart has been with the program, so he is obviously doing something very right. On the other hand, Ram fans watched many baskets go missed. VCU could have been winning by a much larger margin as well as ending fewer games in OT.
With this being said, the team Coach Smart has for his 2014-15 season can not only fill the characteristics above, but boy can they shoot too. Coach Smart’s full-court pressure and transition offense style calls for quick players. He has a team full of players who can finish on the fast break. They can also can handle the ball well at high speeds, all while shooting accurately. Coach Smart looks for players with patience who can read the court and attack at the right time. With the lineup he has, Smart’s plays will be unstoppable next season.
All VCU players show the skills Coach Smart needs. There are a handful of players who initially stick out to fans because their skill sets are so versatile. Weber and Graham, as veterans, live, breathe and execute Coach Smart’s style. Weber is all energy and speed and Graham is an amazing ball handler and versatile shot. Younger returning players who carried out Smart’s plays very well last season include Alie-Cox and Lewis. Alie-Cox uses his size well, but he also still has the speed he needs, which is hard to find in bigger players. Lewis resembles Weber from time to time with his quick feet and hands. Simmons will be the most exciting to watch next season as he comes off his redshirt freshman year. Simmons has what Smart wants, the speed, the ball control and the muscle to kill it in the center position.
As for upcoming freshman, Terry Larrier looks to be Coach Smart’s new project. He already has proven his speed and talent with his national recognition in the ESPN Top-50 recruits. Larrier is 6-8 and 200 pounds. With his height and 6-10 wingspan, Larrier’s speed on offense and defense will be even more successful when Smart gets to train him with the team.
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Read more on Shaka Smart’s history at VCU: