Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
HOUSTON — Jamie Skeen is VCU’s leading scorer and rebounder and a major reason why they are here in their first-ever Final Four.
Skeen poured in 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds when VCU stunned No. 1 Kansas to win the Southwest Regional.
Yet had history unfolded differently, the 6-foot-9, 240-pound senior might have landed in the Big East.
Skeen considered both Seton Hall and South Florida after he was declared ineligible for the 2008 fall semester at Wake Forest for violating the school’s academic policy.
“I considered them pretty big,” Skeen, named “Mr. Basketball” for the state of North Carolina after his junior season of high school, said Friday in the VCU locker room at Reliant Stadium. “I came in. I went to all three schools to visit.”
Then-Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez recruited several transfers, successfully landing Herb Pope (New Mexico State), Jeff Robinson (Memphis) and Keon Lawrence (Missouri).
In 2008, the Pirates thought they had a good shot at Skeen, too.
“I was considering Seton Hall because it’s really close to the mecca of basketball, Madison Square [Garden],” said Skeen, averaging a VCU-best 15.4 points and 7.4 rebounds. “There’s a lot of talent up in that area. They get a lot of press up there. If you start doing good at Seton Hall, you can get a whole lot of press. The word gets out a little bit faster up there.”
South Florida coach Stan Heath also made a run at Skeen.
“I thought we had a great chance to get him,” a source close to the USF coaching staff said. “We really had that need as well.”
Said Skeen: “With South Florida, they’re in the Big East and they’re really good. They did pretty good this year.”
In the end, though, Skeen chose to come to VCU to be with then-coach Anthony Grant.
“He persuaded me to come there,” Skeen said. “I knew he was a great coach. But the real thing was Eric Maynor. I knew he was going to go to the league. I knew he was going to be pretty good, and the same with Larry Sanders. You know, back-to-back years going to the NBA for VCU. So I thought that maybe I could squeak in there and try to slide in and make it a third year.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.