Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top 25 Player Countdown. Each day, we publish a new article counting down the 25 best players in the Atlantic 10 this past season. Today, we feature #24 JeQuan Lewis.
After a slow start to his junior season, JeQuan Lewis hit his stride and becameone of VCU’s most dangerous pieces on last year’s Will Wade-led Rams team. At No.24 he’s proven himself as one of the A-10’s best this past season and is poised for an even bigger senior campaign.
JeQuan Lewis’ junior year hit a low point during the second half of the Rams’ early season Madison Square Garden matchup against the Wisconsin Badgers when the Dickson, TN native went from starter to benched following a first half performance that didn’t receive high praise from the Rams’ new coach. Wade said Lewis needed to “do things our way” following the loss, a message that didn’t take long to sink in and become an effective bit of tough love for the Rams’ starting point guard.
Two games later Lewis would dump 16 points in a rivalry win over Old Dominion but was just scratching the surface of the success he would have at the turn of the calendar year. Lewis poured in a career-high 29-point performance in a gutsy overtime road win over cross-town rival Richmond, 94-89. The speedy guard sliced up the Spiders’ D to lead the Rams to victory, connecting on nine of his 14 attempts including 3-4 from long range.
Lewis would go on to shine again in his next road game, a big win at Belk against the Wildcats of Davidson. Lewis led VCU with 22 points and added five assists and four steals in the 10-point win. That would be just one of his five 20-point performances on the season including two in this year’s NCAA tournament where he averaged 21.5 points and 8.5 assists over VCU’s two games in Oklahoma City.
I submit to you that JeQuan Lewis was an extremely underrated player in last year’s Atlantic 10 and here is why: 30.3% A-10 assist rate (4th in the A-10), 3.1% A-10 steals percentage (4th in the A-10), 47.4% A-10 three-point shooting percentage (2nd in the A-10), 59.8% A-10 true shooting percentage (12th in the A-10). Long story short, in JeQuan Lewis you have a guy who was one of the best assist men in the A-10, one of the best defensive guards and a guy who could flat out score in conference play. Will Wade has to be thrilled that he gets this guy one more season.
Lewis was the second most played player on this year’s VCU team, living on the court for 71.1% of available minutes this season. With the graduations of Melvin Johnson and Korey Billbury expect Lewis to be an even bigger piece of next season’s VCU puzzle and with leading shot-takers Johnson and Billbury graduating could put up some fantasy type numbers in his “contract year” with the Rams.
Previously: #25 Brian Sullivan