Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top Pre-Season Top 25 Player Countdown for the 2016-17 season. Each day, we’ll be publishing a new article counting down our best 25 players for the coming season. Today, we feature #7 JeQuan Lewis of VCU.
What He’s Done
Lewis’ junior year with the Rams has VCU fans a lot to be excited about heading into the black and gold’s second season under Will Wade as head coach. After a bit of a bumpy sophomore campaign, Lewis stumbled out of the blocks this past year but turned things on for A-10 play and saw his star shine brightest under the primetime lights of March Madness. Over VCU’s last three games (the A-10 tournament championship and two NCAA tournament games), Lewis averaged an impressive 20.7 points, 8 assists and 4.3 rebounds, giving the rising senior the momentum VCU will need in it’s backcourt following the graduation of leading scorer, Melvin Johnson. But it wasn’t just a three-game sample that has VCU fans believing Lewis is ready to take a big step, Lewis proved two be one of the best two-way guards in the Atlantic 10 this past season, ranking top-10 in the conference in assists, steals and three-point percentage. Lewis shot a blistering 47.4% from three in conference play this past season helping the Dickson, TN native to a 59.8% conference true shooting percentage that was 12th best in the league. Lewis had five 20-point games on a deep VCU roster, two of which came in VCU’s NCAA tournament games, two were on the road at rival Richmond and at the always tough Belk Arena of Davidson, the last coming in a home win over A-10 regular season co-champ, St. Bonaventure.
What He’ll Do
The Rams have high expectations for Lewis and thanks to the graduation of Melvin Johnson, may need him to live up to the hype if VCU is to win another game in next year’s NCAA tournament. Lewis will begin his last year on Broad St. as the Rams leading returning scorer (11.3 ppg) and as their most accurate three-point shooter. Without Johnson and Korey Billbury, two of VCU’s top-three in three-point attempts and makes, Lewis will look to be VCU’s main three-point option and floor-stretcher, a unique position for VCU’s starting point guard from last season. Junior point guard Jonathan Williams however will help Lewis with that adjustment, as he did late last season when the Rams opted for a double-dose of point guard in a lineup rarely used earlier in the season. Lewis is a natural scorer so don’t be surprised however to see more of those 20-point games we saw last season to go along with what should be fantastic assists numbers. With that, I think it’s very possible Lewis carves out a spot in this year’s Second or even First-Team A-10 honors and could be the closest thing Ram fans have seen at the point guard position to Eric Maynor as they’ve seen since 2009 when Maynor himself averaged 22.6 points and 6.2 assists his senior year with the Rams. Big year ahead.
Previously: #8 Mo Alie-Cox