Given the fact that VMI had the youngest team in the country heading into the season, it was going to be an uphill battle for the Keydets, but one that Andrew Wilson, first-year head coach, and his staff were ready to take on.
The Keydets did indeed battle adversity the entire campaign but gradually learned to play together and made steady improvement from game to game. The Keydets finished with a 7-25 record for the season, but they earned impressive wins against the likes of Navy and Radford in December and SoCon wins over The Citadel and Wofford in February 2023.
Led by Sean Conway ’23 and Sam Wolfe ’23, co-captains, the Keydets continued to battle and fight to the end. In the win over Navy, Conway earned a career-high 28 points, and in the win over Radford, all five starters scored in double figures to earn a slim team win by three points over the Highlanders Dec. 10.
The Keydets fought hard and had close losses to the likes of Davidson, American, and Fordham, in addition to a number of SoCon schools during league play. VMI learned to play well together over the course of the season and earned league wins over The Citadel and an 87-83 overtime thriller over Wofford in February. In the win over Wofford, all 87 points were accounted for by freshmen, an extremely rare feat perhaps never accomplished in NCAA Division I history. VMI used eight different starting lineups during the season to account for injuries and young members of the team as Wilson sought to find the best rotation for his team.
Conway became the 45th Keydet in program history to earn 1,000 points over his VMI career, doing so early in the opening half of VMI’s SoCon Tournament opening-round loss to Chattanooga, the final game of his career. He logged seven points in the game to finish his career with 1,006 points from 2019–23. As a senior, he ranked fifth in the SoCon in three-pointers made per game at 2.2 and seventh in three-point field goal percentage at .395.
VMI finished the regular season ranked first in the SoCon in both free throw percentage (.774) and offensive rebounds at 10.9 per outing. The Keydets also ranked second in the league in three-point percentage, making 35.6 percent of their attempts during the year.
Taeshaud Jackson II ’26 came on strong over the final three weeks of the season and earned five double-doubles during that span. He finished sixth in the league standings with 7.1 rebounds per game and sixth in both offensive rebounds (2.1) and defensive rebounds (5.0).
Wolfe had the greatest season of his VMI career and ended up with career highs in every statistical category as he earned significant playing time. He played a key role on both ends of the court to help VMI defeat Wofford in overtime Feb. 22.
After the season wrapped up, Wolfe added some different hardware to his collection, being named valedictorian of the Class of 2023 as well as earning the Jackson-Hope and Cincinnati Medals. Wolfe became the first cadet-athlete to earn the Jackson-Hope Medal since John O’Donnell ’19 (lacrosse) in 2019.
While losing key players such as Conway and Wolfe to graduation is never easy, Wilson and company have proven the ability to overcome obstacles.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at vmikeydets.com.