VCU hoops getting that homegrown feeling

Fred Jeter | 4/27/2023, 6 p.m.
The VCU Rams are becoming the RVA Rams.

The VCU Rams are becoming the RVA Rams.

Under new Coach Ryan Odom, Virginia Commonwealth University is loading up on 804 talent for the 2023-24 season. In the wake of a coaching change, here are the latest commitments – all transfers – from within a half hour of the VCU campus.

Jason Nelson, 5-foot-10, out of John Marshall High: Trans- ferring from University of Richmond where he started 26 of 32 games, averaging eight points and two assists in 27 minutes per. He has three years of eligibility.

Roosevelt Wheeler, 6-foot-10, from John Marshall High: Transferring from Louisville, where he saw limited duty. In just nine minutes per game, he averaged 1.2 points and 2.0 rebounds. He has at least two seasons eligibility.

Joe Bamisile, 6-foot-4, from Monacan High: Transferring from Oklahoma after previously playing for Virginia Tech and George Washington. Averaged 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in just 11.1 minutes for sooners. He may have to sit out the upcoming season due to multiple transfers.

Alphonzo Billups, 6-foot-7, former All-Stater from Varina High: Sat out freshman season at VCU with medical redshirt. He has four more years of eligibility.

Another local athlete being pursued by Coach Odom is 7-foot Efton Reid out of Steward School. Reid played as a freshman at LSU and this past season at Gonzaga, averaging 2.1 points and 1.0 rebounds in 4.6 minutes per.

Reid, Nelson, Wheeler, Bamisile and Billups all played together in the past for the Team Loaded travel squad.

Then there is Rob Beran, a 6-foot-9 product of Collegiate School. Beran averaged 7.9 points and 4.5 rebounds this past season for Northwestern.

There’s far-away recruiting, too.

Other Coach Odom targets are 6-foot-8 Sean Bairstow, 6-foot-4 Max Shulga and 6-foot Rylan Jones, all from Utah State, and 6-foot-5 Michael Belle, a native Englishman now playing in the U-21 French league, along with 6-foot-4 Jacob Patrick from Germany.

Bairstow and Shulga both averaged about 11 points per game last season for the Aggies.

Numerous departures created all of the roster vacancies.

From last year’s 27-8 squad, Ace Baldwin and Nick Kern have followed Coach Mike Rhoades to Penn State.

Jayden Nunn has landed at Baylor, Jamir Watkins at Florida State, Jalen DeLoach at Georgia and Josh Banks at UNC- Asheville.

The Rams are losing two seniors, Brandon Johns and David Shriver.

Despite a rich history with homegrown talent, Rams rosters have been absent of area athletes for the last 20 years or so. Brad Burgess (Benedictine) and Brandon Rozzell (Highland Springs) were two exceptions.

The record book shows how prominent local players have been, starting with the late 1960s.

Six of VCU’s top 11 all-time scorers were local recruits. They are Len Creech (George Wythe), Kendrick Warren (Thomas Jefferson), Jabo Wilkins and Jesse Dark (Maggie Walker), Dom Jones (Manchester) and Burgess.

Not far behind in the Rams’ 1,000-point club are Gerald Henderson and Bo Jones (Huguenot), Ed Sherod and LaMar Taylor (John Marshall), Monty Knight (TJ) and Michael Brown (Hopewell).