VMI Basketball: Dan Earl voted Southern Conference Coach of the Year
VMI senior guard Greg Parham (Richmond, Va.) was voted to the All-Southern Conference first team by the media and earned second team honors on the coaches’ squad while junior center Jake Stephens (Bunker Hill, W.Va.) earned spots on the All-SoCon second team by the media and third team coaches. Freshman guard Trey Bonham (Mobile, Ala.) was named to the all-freshman team by both media and league coaches.
Earl, in his sixth season as head coach of the Keydet program, has led VMI to a 12-11 overall mark and 7-7 record in conference competition this season while securing a #6 tournament seed. The 12 victories are the most since 2013-14 and the seven SoCon wins are the most since 2014-15. VMI went 11-1 at home for its most successful season at Cameron Hall in seven years.
VMI posted wins over the top four finishers in the conference including victories over three first-place teams at the time of play (Furman, Wofford, UNCG). It also marked the first time that VMI defeated the top four teams in the regular conference standings since 2008-09 when the Keydets competed in the Big South Conference.
VMI currently ranks second in the nation in three-pointers made per game averaging 11.1 per contest and averaged 80.5 points in 2020-21 conference games – tops in the SoCon.
Earl becomes the first VMI coach to receive SoCon Coach of the Year since Bart Bellairs in 1994-1995.
Parham ranks third in the SoCon in scoring with an 18.6 PPG average and has scored 20 or more points in 11 games this season. He became to 42nd player in VMI program history to reach 1,000 career points and currently stands at 1,042 career points. He leads the SoCon in scoring in league games with a 20.5 PPG average and also tops the SoCon in 3-point percentage with a 45.3% mark. Parham also earned the first SoCon player of the month basketball honor for the Keydets since November 2015 by averaging 23.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game in eight January contests, and was named SoCon Player of the Week for consecutive weeks in late January becoming the first Keydet since Jayson Bell in 1997-98 to earn SoCon POTW in consecutive weeks.
Stephens has been a steady presence in the recent Keydet basketball success and has averaged 17.9 points and 8.6 rebounds over his last 13 games. He pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds along with 19 points at The Citadel February 20. Stevens was named SoCon Player of the Week Feb. 9 after a 22-point, nine rebound effort against Wofford Feb. 3. Stephens has five double-doubles on the season. Earlier in January, Stephens scored a career-high 33 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the 110-103 victory over The Citadel January 16. Stephens is currently ranked third in the SoCon in rebounding (7.8), is third in blocks (1.6) and fourth in free throw shooting at 82.0%, and 12th in scoring (14.7).
Bonham has provided solid backcourt depth this season and averages 8.6 points while shooting 40.8% from three-point range. He was also inserted into the starting lineup in January and scored a season and career-high 20 points against Wofford Jan. 13 in his first start and averaged 11.7 points in seven starts. Bonham, who dished out a season and career-high seven assists against Western Carolina January 27, now has 13 double-figures scoring games on the year.
VMI resumes play after a two-week pause due to COVID testing and quarantining protocols within the program and will face #3 seed Furman Saturday night in Asheville, N.C., at 8 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Ingles Southern Conference Basketball Championships presented by General Shale Brick.
The game will be carried on ESPN+ as well as Nexstar TV affiliates in SoCon markets. The VMI Radio Network audio broadcast will be available on WWZW 96.7 FM and 3wzfm.com, vmikeydets.com, and on the Tune-In app (search WWZW 96.7 FM).