Two players who helped VCU during their famous trip to the Final Four in 2011 are now gone. With Rob Brandenberg and Juvonte Reddic’s graduation this past May, VCU fans are looking for players who may fill their shoes.
Reddic was a fan favorite as he tore up the center position. He was always there when needed, and always had the strength to get VCU out of any messy situation. On of Reddic’s qualities that will be most missed is his ability to keep up the speed of smaller guards (while being 6-9). He consistently scored in double digits and rarely missed a rebound opportunity.
With Reddic’s skill fresh in our minds, two players may be able to fill this void. Mo Alie-Cox and Antravious Simmons both have some of what it takes to make up for “Ju’s” absence on the court.
Mo has the strength and power that Reddic exuded. He is a 6-6 rising sophomore with a 7-1 wingspan. His size only accounts for half of his power as he has the muscle and a natural “attack the ball” mentality. Mo is a great rebounder because of this attitude and he is a strong defensive force as well. Mo finished last season with 48 blocks and 11 steals! With his tendency to thrive a little more on defense he may be used more as a power forward rather than a center, but he certainly has both positons down.
Simmons looks to have just that little but more center edge to him. Although he was redshirted last season, with his year in training under Coach Smart fans should be excited. Simmons excels on both offense and defense. He averaged 18 PPG his senior year of high school and hasn’t lost his touch. Simmons has the height like Reddic at 6-9. His patience on the court allows him to wait for plays to come to him then to execute. If Simmons isn’t shooting or grabbing the ball, he is setting up a play so another Ram is.
Now we come to Brandenberg’s guard position. Brandenberg is 6-2, 190 pounds and plays at high speed all the time. Luckily, the Rams have Treveon Graham who will be a senior next year and who performs this role well already. Graham will keep grabbing the ball quickly just like Brandenberg did. His shooting average is higher than Brandenberg’s was at 15.8 PPG. Graham is a seasoned veteran who will be able to pick up any slack that Brandenberg left.
When it comes to filling in the open position, Melvin Johnson looks to just the man. Johnson is 6-3 and he’s not only similar in size, his style of play is similar to Brandenberg’s as well. Johnson is very athletic and he has the ability to score while moving at high speeds. Johnson has the quick hands and feet like Brandenberg does. In addition, Johnson’s attitude mirrors Brandenberg’s as well. Johnson has that spark that Brandenberg has on the court which adds to the havoc fire.
Jordan Burgess can’t be missed here either. One of the interesting things about Burgess is his versatility on the court. He’s very talented under the basket as well as in a shooting guard position. Burgess could end up being just the guy in many different situations on the court so it will be interesting to see where he thrives this season.
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