RICHMOND, Va. – The 2013 NCAA steals leader Briante Weber was suspended Friday evening in an announcement released by the team. Weber was cited in a petit larceny incident on July 24, which resulted in a court summons for the VCU guard. The decision by coach Shaka Smart means the senior would sit out the first game of the year as well as the intra-squad game and preseason exhibition. Weber is set to appear back in court on Sept. 25, and will also be subject to the VCU student code of conduct as well.
With Weber out, there should be a lot more time for coach Smart to give to returning guard Jaquan Lewis. Lewis is returning for his second year with the rams and is the sure front runner for the starting point guard position once Weber graduates. Coach Smart showed a special interest in Lewis last season with the freshman guard averaging 16.1 minutes per game. With Weber on the bench, expect Lewis to bring the same excitement and passion to the game as his teammate Briante Weber.
As for Weber, the senior guard faces misdemeanor charges as well as punishment from the university so he will be a busy man as the rams get ready to open the 2014 season. Weber is also preparing for his last season in the NCAA before declaring for the NBA draft so this incident might also hurt Weber’s draft stock. VCU opens the season in the inaugural game of the Veterans Classic against Tennessee, so Weber will be missing some national television coverage to begin his year. Certainly Weber’s suspension will generate much discussion about the rams to begin the year but with a simple one game suspension, you can expect Briante Weber to embrace his return to the court with a vengeance. He will also have something to prove to NBA scouts moving forward through the season as well.
With Weber out, the rams will have to focus more of their attention on preparing sophomore guard Jequan Lewis and freshman guard Jonathan Williams. The suspension will also allow Williams more opportunity to show what his 5-foot-11-inch frame can do against much taller opponents like he will face during his NCAA career. Williams, a three-star prospect from Saint Benedict Prep., will start his freshman year at the very bottom of the ram’s depth chart with three point guards ahead of Williams. Briante Weber, the sure starter after he serves his one game suspension, and Jequan Lewis the probable starter while Weber is out. With Jarius Lyles’ transfer to Robert Morris, Williams would battle returning guard Doug Brooks for the ram’s third point guard position. With the number of freshmen and returning forwards this season, don’t expect VCU to keep more than three point guards this season.
Many moves can be anticipated as VCU enters the 2014-15 season without its star forward. The loss of Briante Weber will show in the ram’s first battle this season against Tennessee University coming off of a loss to Michigan in the 2013-14 Sweet Sixteen. Coach Smart will definitely show off his young guards and release havoc on the Tennessee scoring attack.