Signed, sealed, delivered: VCU Rams 2013-14

Photo courtesy of VCU Athletics
Photo courtesy of VCU Athletics

Counting down to tipoff and previewing the incoming freshmen of the Atlantic 10 with a look at the first-year players of the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams.

VCU advanced to the third round of the 2013 NCAA tournament with a 27-9 (12 A-10 wins) record. Shaka Smart welcomes five freshmen to campus: Emerson Burk, Doug Brooks, JeQuan Lewis, Jairus Lyles and Antravious Simmons. Also three players are eligible after a redshirt season: Mo Alie-Cox , Jordan Burgess and Torey Burston.

Emerson Burk F 6-9, 215 Chesapeake, VA/ Great Bridge (Fork Union)

Played four years of high school ball at Great Bridge before prepping last year at Fork Union Military Academy. Burk played high school ball with current VCU teammate Briante Weber. Walk-on will add valuable depth to VCU’s frontcourt.

What they’re saying about Emerson BurkJamie Shaw/Phenom Hoop Report: “A big kid who knows who he is. Has long arms and a good motor. Able to shoot over both shoulders with some touch.”

Doug Brooks G 6-3, 180 Lake Wales, FL/ Lake Wales

Consensus three-star guard who brings a speedy, defensive presence to VCU’s Havoc style of play.  Dave Telep, ESPN’s Director of Scouting, ranked Brooks’ senior campaign 10th on his list of “Top 10 Under the Radar Seasons.” During his senior year, Brooks paced a Highlanders squad that finished 22-8 and was ranked No.1 in the state of Florida for much of the season. At the City of Palms Tournament in December of 2012, Brooks helped his squad to two wins and averaged 23 points and 5.3 steals per game in three games at the prestigious tournament. In 2012, Brooks helped nationally ranked Lake Wales to a 28-4 record and a Florida Class 5A State Championship. Drew interest on the recruiting circuit from South Carolina, South Florida, Illinois State, Central Florida, Arkansas and others.

What they’re saying about Doug BrooksJamie Shaw/ Phenom Hoop Report: “Brooks is a confident shooter who has a quick trigger and a good looking stroke. He is a kid that is 100% all the time. This motor allows him to play above his athleticism, which is good to start with. Has nice vision, can handle, attack the rim, and defends with purpose. ”

JeQuan Lewis G 6-1, 175 Dickson, TN/ Dickson County

Consensus three-star guard. At the State Farm Tournament of Champions in November of 2012, Lewis set a Tennessee state record with 50 points in a win over Grandview.  Ranked as one of the top-10 players in the state of Tennessee by During his junior year, he averaged 19.6 ppg, 3.9 spg, 3.7 apg when he led the Cougars to 21 victories. Drew interest on the recruiting circuit from Georgia, Wichita State, Northern Iowa, Alabama and N.C. State, among others.

What they’e saying about JeQuan LewisJamie Shaw/Phenom Hoop Report:  “Lewis is an attack-minded lead guard, both on offense and on defense. He will get into your chest and defend you end line to end line, not giving an inch. On offense he is a scoring type lead guard who likes to attack the basket and put the defense on their heels.”

Jairus Lyles G 6-2, 175 Washington, D.C./ DeMatha

Consensus three-star guard who played both the point and shooting guard during his career at DeMatha. As a junior, Lyles averaged nearly 11 points and three assists en route to leading the Stags to Washington Catholic Athletic Conference finals, which included a 20-point, six-assist outburst against Bishop O’Connell.  Drew interest on the recruiting circuit from Oklahoma State, Penn State and Virginia Tech.

What they’re saying about Jairus LylesJamie Shaw/ Phenom Hoop Report:  “Lyles is a combo guard who can really put up buckets in a hurry. He is cat quick to the rim, great in the mid-range, and really improving from distance. He has a confident swagger and an alpha dog mentality, on the court despite his size. Lyles uses his quick hands and feet to be a pesky on ball defender.”

Edgar Walker/DMV Elite: “He’s a combo-type guard who can really score. He’s probably better as an under-sized two. He’s really good at identifying mismatches taking advantage of that and getting to the rim and scoring easy points. He really good at getting in the paint and finishing around the rim.”

Steve Keller/ National Recruiting Report: “He’s their best guy coming in. Lyles may be the third-best kid coming into the league behind Bembry and Severe. He’s a good-sized point guard. He played for DeMatha in the Washington D.C. Catholic League where every time he went on the floor, he’s going against top-level players.”

James Lee/ Mid-Atlantic Select: “He’s tough off the dribble, really can get to the paint and finish around the rim. He’s a combo-guard and knows how to score.”

Antravious Simmons F 6-9, 250 Miami, FL/ South Miami

Consensus three-star big man who adds valuable depth to VCU’s frontcourt. Rated as the 25th-best overall center in the class of 2013 by . As a junior, Simmons averaged 26 ppg and 15 rpg for South Miami. Drew interest on the recruiting circuit from from Alabama, Georgia, Kansas State, Miami and Memphis.

What they’re saying about Antravious SimmonsJamie Shaw/ Phenom Hoop Report:  “Simmons is a strong back to the basket big. He possesses a thick and physical type build. He has good feet in the low post and provides his guards a wide target and strong hands on the entry pass. Simmons is working on his hips as they can get a bit stiff in the post, but has good leverage and some moves in the post. Simmons also is able to knock down the mid-range shot with touch. Simmons is quick to the ball when blocking shots or rebounds and shows an ability to hit a great outlet pass.”

Mo Alie-Cox (redshirt) F 6-6, 250 Middleburg, VA/ Middleburg Academy

Big, physical, low post body who possesses a 7-1 wingspan. Praised for his ability to run the floor and provide a physical presence inside. His game has been compared to likes of Charles Barkley and DeJuan Blair.

Sat out 2012-13 season after being ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA. Earned Dean’s List both semesters in 2012-13. Recognized with the “Black History in the Making” Award from VCU’s Criminal Justice program.

Listed as the No. 9 recruit in Virginia, according to Averaged nearly 20 points and over 10 rebounds per game during his senior campaign at Middleburg and was named to the First-Team All-State squad. As a junior, he led his Middleburg Academy squad with 16 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks per game. His outstanding play earned him First-Team All-State accolades. Drew interest on the recruiting circuit from Nevada, Delaware, George Washington and Wake Forest.

What they’re saying about Mo Alie-CoxJamie Shaw/Phenom Hoop Report: “Cox is a big strong explosive guy who strength and explosion allow him to play taller than he is. Alie-Cox does a lot of damage on the interior with rim-rattling dunks and paint-clearing boards. Can knock down a mid range off the catch, but make no mistake he is a bruiser.”

Jordan Burgess (redshirt) G 6-5, 215 Midlothian, VA/ Benedictine

Aggressive, physical guard who attacks the basket. Praised for his toughness and ability to score from inside and out. Younger brother of Bradford Burgess, who was the only senior on last year’s NCAA Tournament team. Bradford set the all-time NCAA record for consecutive starts with 146.

Sat out 2012-13 season after being ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA. Earned Dean’s List both semesters in 2012-13.

Listed as the No. 4 recruit in Virginia, according to Late bloomer who cracked ESPN’s Top 100 during his senior year. Scored 17.5 points, pulled down 7.5 rebounds and shot better than 40 percent from beyond the 3-point arc to lead Benedictine to the VISAA State Semifinals as a senior. He earned All-State and All-Metro accolades for his efforts. As a junior, he was a key factor in Benedictine’s Independent School State championship, averaging 13 points and eight rebounds per night. For his outstanding play, he garnered All-State and All-Metro recognition. Recruited heavily by Penn State, Saint Joseph’s, George Mason and Richmond.

Steve Keller/National Recruiting Report: “He is a good-sized wing who can shoot and put it on the floor.”

Torey Burston (redshirt) G 5-8, 165 Richmond, VA/ Trinity Episcopal

Joined the Rams mid-way through the 2012-13 season. Played three years of high school at nearby Trinity Episcopal. Averaged 9.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists during his senior year at Trinity. Also was a star running back at Trinity, averaging 65 yard a game and scoring eight touchdowns during his senior year.

Biographical information courtesy of


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