Keydet Basketball 2023–24 Season Recap

Keydet basketball about to shoot a basket

Devin Butler ’24 wrapped up his last season of Keydet basketball with a career-high 20 points in the game against Wofford College.—Photo courtesy VMI Athletics.

Though the 2023–24 VMI basketball season did not go according to plan, the program saw many positives and laid a foundation based on young talent that will benefit the growth and potential of the team going forward.

The highlight of the season arrived when VMI defeated rival The Citadel by a 70-63 score Jan. 20. The Keydets led by as many as 16 points in the first half but had to clamp down on defense the rest of the way as the Bulldogs tried to rally back into contention.

The schools battled back and forth as VMI led 46-45 with 10 minutes to play. On five separate occasions in the second half, the Bulldogs reached within one point as VMI held on to a 59-58 lead with 3:13 to go. The Citadel tied it back up at 59-59 at the 2:45 mark and earned its first lead of the game since the opening bucket, 60-59, moments later.

The victory was monumental for the Keydets as they earned their fourth victory of the season and first Southern Conference/Division I win of the year. It was also VMI’s 60th all-time win against the Bulldogs.

The Keydets were fortunate to have senior leadership from Devin Butler ’24, D.J. Nussbaum ’24, and Jake Johnston ’24. Butler put on a clinic in the game at Wofford, where he scored 20 points—a new career high versus a Division I opponent—to go with a career-high four three-pointers during the game.

Injured for much of his career, Nussbaum came on strong in his final year at VMI by ranking sixth in the conference in field goal percentage, shooting 54.5 percent. He earned a career-high 14 points twice during the year, including a hard-fought contest at Radford University in December. He also earned a career-high nine rebounds against the University of North Carolina–Greensboro at home Jan. 31 and tallied a career-high two blocks against Samford Feb. 10.

Johnston, who will commission into the U.S. Air Force upon graduation in May, displayed strong leadership from the bench by supporting his teammates. He earned his first career start on Senior Day against Wofford March 2.

A.J. Clark ’25 and Maurice Wright ’27 came on strong in the final weeks of the season, as Clark scored 13 points at Mercer Feb. 3, and Wright showed his potential late by earning a season-high 13 points at Furman Feb. 14.

The VMI basketball program is in good hands under Andrew Wilson, second-year head coach, and looks to build on the foundation of stepping stones achieved during the 2023–24 campaign.