WOODSTOCK — On the second attempt, Jarren McAllister has found his college home.
McAllister, a guard for Massanutten Military Academy’s postgraduate boys basketball team, announced last month his plans to continue his basketball career at Virginia Commonwealth University and on Wednesday signed his national letter of intent with the Rams, marking the end of an eventful recruiting period that will soon land the Wake Forest, North Carolina, native in Richmond.
The 6-foot-3 Heritage High product had initially signed with Virginia Tech out of high school but announced he had requested his release in late July. McAllister reclassified and joined head coach Chad Myers’ MMA postgrad program.
“It means a lot,” McAllister said of signing with VCU on Wednesday morning. “Me and my parents have been talking, everything happens for a reason, and with everything with Virginia Tech, all the hard work I’ve put in and finally getting to sign to a team that wants me feels really good.”
The departure of a pair of Virginia Tech assistant coaches, including Steve Roccaforte, whom McAllister said was his primary recruiter with the Hokies, prompted McAllister to reopen his recruitment over the summer. VCU began showing interest not long after, and McAllister made his verbal commitment to head coach Mike Rhoades in mid-October.
“I knew instantly that they wanted me and they loved everything about me,” said McAllister, who noted that he also received an offer from South Florida and added that East Carolina and West Virginia had expressed interest. “They showed it, too. I know that the atmosphere during home games is wild and I feel like their school is the perfect platform for me.”
In Rhoades’ first season at VCU in 2017-18, the Rams went 18-15 and saw their season end in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament quarterfinals, snapping a string of seven straight NCAA tournament appearances.
“When I went on my official (visit), I got the chance to see one of their practices,” McAllister said. “I love the high energy and how involved every coach was with each of their players. You can tell their main focus is on making their players better.”
His quest for personal improvement is what landed him at Massanutten Military Academy, a program that has annually earned a bid to the National Prep Championship tournament under Myers. McAllister said one former Colonel in particular — Frank Mason III, who went on to win national player of the year awards at Kansas and is now in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings — piqued his interest in the small Woodstock boarding school.
“I heard a lot of good things about coach Myers and what he’s about,” McAllister said. “Frank Mason came here and I hear a lot of stories from coach Myers about how much work he put in, and I kind of wanna have that same path.”
McAllister said his primary focus, aside from helping MMA to its first-ever national championship, during the postgrad season is to “work on some of the things me and coach Rhoades talked about.”
“I just wanna be more consistent on both ends,” he said, “as far as defending, getting stops and being efficient with scoring and rebounding.”
McAllister is the first MMA player to sign a national letter of intent this season, and Myers said as many as nine Colonels could ink national letters of intent with Division I programs before the end of the school year. Three unsigned Colonels — point guard Dereon Seabron, guard Brandon Suggs and forward Mahamadou Diawara — have multiple Division-I offers, and Myers said four others have received significant D1 interest.