RICHMOND, Va. – VCU Head Coach Mike Rhoades and his staff locked up four 2018 commitments Wednesday in the first day of the early signing period.
Junior college transfer Corey Douglas (Louisville, Ky./Tallahassee CC), as well as prep standouts P.J. Byrd (Fort Bend, Texas/George Bush), KeShawn Curry (Jacksonville, Fla./Fork Union) and Vincent Williams (Toledo, Ohio/St. John's) have all signed National Letters of Intent to join VCU for the 2018-19 season.
"We're very excited to sign these four young men. Number one, they are guys that we targeted and wanted in our program from the start. But they also fill needs in our program moving forward, and all of them will come here and help impact our program right away. We can't wait until they get here," said Rhoades.
A 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward, Douglas is a skilled shot blocker and finisher around the rim. He currently attends Tallahassee Community College, where he's averaging 16.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in two games this season.
Douglas is a familiar face to Rhoades and his staff. He originally committed to Rhoades at Rice in 2016 after attending Fork Union Military Academy. Douglas appeared in nine games for the Owls as a freshman, including eight starts, before an injury ended his season. Douglas averaged 17.2 minutes, 4.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and nearly a block per game during his Rice stint. He connected on 17-of-20 field goals. Douglas recorded career highs of 11 points and nine rebounds in a game against Texas Southern.
Douglas received a medical redshirt from the NCAA in 2016-17. When he arrives at VCU, he will have three years of eligibility remaining.
"I was fortunate to coach Corey his freshman year at Rice," Rhoades said. "We're excited we'll have him for three years. He's a versatile player with great size. He really knows how to play the game the right way. He can play in the front and back of the press. He can play multiple positions. He's has a very good basketball I.Q. that we really need in our program, and he's a guy who can impact our program from the way he does things on and off the court. He's only getting better. We're going to get a player ready to help us from Day One."
Byrd is a 6-1, 170-pound, three-star point guard out of the Houston, Texas area. A slick passer who thrives playing in an up-tempo system, Byrd matches well with Rhoades' coaching style.
A standout for the Houston Defenders AAU program, Byrd was also the District 20-6A Most Valuable Player as a junior at George Bush High School. He has led Bush to three straight district crowns.
Byrd chose VCU after receiving interest from Boise State, Tulsa, UMass, Murray State and others.
"P.J. is a point guard we targeted the day we got here," said Rhoades. "He plays for a great high school coach and program, so he's going to have the background to be ready to come here and give us a lot. We're excited about his potential as a player, but also the intangibles he brings. He's a guy who can make plays with the ball in his hands. He's a terrific passer. He's a guy who lives in the gym, and he's going to be great for our culture and make an impact in so many ways."
Douglas isn't the only future Ram with Fork Union ties. Curry is currently attends the nearby military academy. A 6-4, 180-pound combo guard, Curry's length, athleticism and unselfish style make him a good fit for the Rams.
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Curry averaged 19.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists as a senior last year for Andrew Jackson High School. He was named All-First Coast Second Team for his efforts.
"We're pumped to have another player form Fork Union. He's a guy who has really developed on the court over the last year and a half. He's just scratching the surface of his ability, and we feel he's only going to get better and better. He reminds me a lot of some of the wings we've had here, combo guards who were athletic and could press, but could also play fast and shoot the three. He also gets to the basket and makes plays. He's a guy who I think will come here and work extremely hard to get better and better. He's definitely what we want in our program," said Rhoades.
A four-star small forward, Williams rounds out VCU's 2018 class. The 6-6, 210-pound Williams is the 41st-ranked small forward nationally in this year's class, according to ESPN.com. 247Sports.com has tabbed Williams the 18th-ranked player in the state of Ohio.
A physical, left-handed wing, Williams averaged 16 points and 8.6 rebounds for St. John's Jesuit High School last year as a junior. He also averaged 12.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists for the All-Ohio Red squad on the EYBL Circuit this past summer.
Williams picked VCU over Xavier, Wichita State, Richmond, Akron and others.
"Vincent Williams is a guy we targeted a while ago," Rhoades said. "We were fortunate to see him last year as an underclassman in high school and knew that he was somebody we had our eyes on, even before we got to VCU. Vincent plays for a legendary high school coach, and he'll be prepared to help our team when he arrives on campus. He is a very versatile basketball player. He can shoot, pass and dribble at a high level. He can play multiple positions. He totally fits into our program and fills a need of being a versatile player who can really score the ball and make plays. He can impact the game on both sides of the floor. He has a very high basketball I.Q. as well. We're really excited about the type of player we're going to have for four years in Vince."
Rhoades and his staff have hit the ground running since taking over the VCU program in April. In just seven months, they've signed 10 players and affirmed the commitments of two others.
VCU, which has reached seven straight NCAA Tournaments and has won at least 24 games in 11 consecutive seasons, tips off the 2017-18 season on Friday, Nov. 10 against Grambling State at the E.J. Wade Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.