There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the VCU basketball program heading into the 2018-19 season. There are questions about whether Marcus Evans can duplicate his success at Rice in a Ram uniform. There remain questions about which players will fill the leadership void left by Johnny Williams and the production of Justin Tillman. It remains unclear how Issac Vann will recover from his ankle surgery and if he can improve his low three-point shooting percentage. But the biggest question mark for the VCU Rams is whether freshman Marcus Santos-Silva can develop into an interior threat.
Looking at the Rams roster, there is depth at most positions other than point guard and forward. Several players, including Malik Crowfield and De’Riante Jenkins, while not listed as point guards could play the position if Evans gets into foul trouble. The team lacks such versatility in the frontcourt. Outside of Santos-Silva, the Rams have Sean Mobley and Lewis Djonkam. Mobley is more a of stretch player with a strong perimeter shot while Djonkam played sparsely during his freshman season. Santos-Silva seems the most likely candidate to fill the void left by Justin Tillman, but will have to make big strides in improvement to reach such productivity levels. Santos-Silva, like Tillman, is an undersized forward, but possesses the ability to attack the glass and rebound against taller opponents. He showed flashes of his offensive game, including a 14-point effort against Seton Hall early in the season, but struggled to find consistent playing time in A-10 conference play. Santos-Silva also was prone to foul trouble off the bench, which limited his minutes and contributions as a freshman. If VCU is to bounce back from its eighth place finish in the A-10, they will need Santos-Silva to contribute heavily. Another offseason in the weight room can build Santos-Silva’s strength and improve his ability to grind against bigger opponents. The offseason also gives him a chance to polish his offensive game and improve his comfort with Mike Rhoades’s system. If Santos-Silva is able to make the jump from a 3.1-point-per-game player to a 10-to-12-point-per-game player, the Rams will have a great chance of competing at the top of the A-10 in 2018-19.