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Big men impress on first full day of A-10 hoops

VCU’s Marcus Santos-Silva and St. Bonaventure’s Osun Osunniyi showed out against D.C. area teams on Sunday.

Old Dominion v VCU Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

WASHINGTON D.C. — After solid non-conference slates, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies and VCU Rams were ready to get into the heat of conference play. To end the first week of play, they’d both play in the DC Metro Area against George Washington and George Mason, respectively. But the biggest thing not mentioned for both of these teams, is that they are led by a player that stands over 6’6.

First, VCU and 6’7 junior forward Marcus Santos-Silva visited in-state rival George Mason. The Patriots came into this game after an 11-2 start, which was the best start in program history. But after a close 15 minutes, the Rams pulled away. Santos Silva exploded for a 26 point, 12 rebound double-double in front of a couple NBA scouts in attendance — not bad for a player who isn’t in ESPN’s Top 100 Draft Prospects.

But this was everyday work for Santos-Silva. He is only 1.3 rebounds per game away from averaging a double-double, a feat he has accomplished and has four of those on the year. The junior is one of the best rebounders in the nation, ranking 44th in defensive rebounding percentage and 58th in offensive rebounding percentage, both per KenPom. Not only that, he is 93rd in the nation with a 61.3 eFG%. Unsurprisingly, he was announced the Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week after Sunday’s performance.

Half an hour down the road — or a quick Metro trip on the Orange Line, barring delays — the George Washington Colonials hosted a St. Bonaventure team fresh off snapping its seven-game winning streak against Buffalo to close its non-conference slate.

It was a back-and-forth game throughout — more of a three-heavy and quick possession game than one star sophomore Osun Osunniyi might’ve preferred. But that did not stop him on Sunday.

Last year as a freshman, Osunniyi set a career high with eighteen points at the Smith Center. This time, however, he backed that up, helping the Bonnies pull away late with a career-high 20 points. But that was not the most impressive thing Osun did on Sunday afternoon: He shot a perfect 8-8 from the field, picking up nine rebounds and five blocks as well. With this, he became the 13th Division I player to have a perfect night from the floor with at least eight field goals and five blocks in a single game.

After this performance, the Bona faithful on Twitter self-proclaimed Osunniyi “The President of the United States,” due to the location of his two highest scoring games.

Despite missing four games early in the season with a knee injury, Osunniyi has been on a tear. He had double-doubles against Mercer and Middle Tennessee, then picked up double-digit rebounding efforts in another game and scoring double digits in two more. The forward from New Jersey ranks fifth in the nation in block percentage and 13th in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage, per KenPom.

Santos-Silva and Osynniyi put on an absolute show for college basketball fans who partook in a D.C. doubleheader on Sunday. The two will face off in VCU and St. Bonaventure’s lone matchup in conference play on Jan. 18, which will be must-see basketball.