After averaging a team-best 15.1 points per game in his team’s first season as a member of the Southern Conference, Mercer guard Ike Nwamu has asked to be released from his scholarship and the request was granted by head coach Bob Hoffman. News of Nwamu’s decision was first reported by Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com.
Having completed his undergraduate coursework, Nwamu will be eligible immediately at the school of his choice next season as a fifth-year player. The 6-foot-5 guard also averaged 3.3 rebounds per game this season, shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 37.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Nwamu played his freshman season at Cleveland State in 2011-12, and he was a valuable reserve on the 2013-14 Mercer team that upset Duke in the NCAA tournament Round of 64. In a story written by Daniel Shirley of the Macon Telegraph, Hoffman confirmed the report that Nwamu would be moving on.
“He has gotten his release, and he has had some schools that have shown interest,” Hoffman said. “He’s a fifth-year guy, and he’s graduating, and he’s exploring what’s out there. I want whatever is best for him and want it to work out for him.”
In addition to Nwamu the Bears, who won 19 games and finished 12-6 in SoCon play, will have to account for the loss of senior forwards Darious Moten and T.J. Hallice. Mercer will lose its top three scorers, with rising senior guards Phillip Leonard (8.1 ppg) and Jibri Bryan (7.8 ppg) being their leading returning scorers.
Leonard and Bryan started all 35 games for the Bears in 2014-15.
POSTERIZED: Ike Nwamu’s emphatic dunk was originally called a charge (VIDEO)
Mercer’s performed well in its inaugural season as a member of the Southern Conference despite losing many of the key contributors who helped lead the team to a win over Duke in the NCAA tournament. One reason for this is 6-foot-3 guard Ike Nwamu, who after being a reserve in 2013-14 is now averaging 15.9 points per game as a sophomore.
Nwamu finished Mercer’s 75-72 overtime win over Chattanooga with 20 points, with the dunk above counting for two of those points. Nwamu was originally called for a charge, but the call was overturned. (Thanks to mercerbearfan for that note.)
In the video above is what could have been one of the more impressive dunks of the college basketball season, with Nwamu finishing emphatically over Chattanooga’s Justin Tuoyo.
With the block/charge call sparking numerous debates this season, was the decision to overturn the charge the correct one? Leave your thoughts below.
Kentucky entered the 2013-14 season with buzz about a potential perfect season on the horizon. However, it was Wichita State, the Final Four darling from the previous March, flirting with perfection in the NCAA tournament, taking a 35-0 record into the Round of 32. Kentucky’s shortcomings resulted in the Wildcats being slotted as a No. 8 seed, a dangerous third round matchup for the undefeated Shockers.
Wichita State led 69-64 with 4:30 left after a few 3-pointers from Cleanthony Early. James Young would led a run for the Wildcats who took a 70-69 lead with under three minutes to play. A two-possession lead, 75-71, was cut to a single point after Ron Baker banked in a three. Julius Randle hit a pair of free throws, and Fred VanVleet’s final 3-point attempt was off the mark.
Bo Ryan advanced to his first Final Four with a dramatic 64-63 win over top-ranked Arizona in the West Regional final. Arizona possessed the nation’s top defense, but Frank Kaminsky proved to be the ultimate mismatch with 28 points and 11 rebounds. Kaleb Tarczewski and Aaron Gordon both guarded Kaminsky. Nick Johnson would front him. Nothing worked. Still, the Wildcats had a chance to win, although, a controversial charge call went against Johnson with 3.2 seconds remaining.
It needs to repeated because Harrison replicated a game-winner against Michigan in the Elite 8 in Kentucky’s Final Four matchup against Wisconsin. No seriously, look: identical shots. Harrison’s 3-pointer with two seconds left sent the Wildcats to the national championship game.
Kentucky was part of the toughest region in the bracket. The Wildcats needed to top Wichita State, Louisville and Michigan in order to reach Arlington. Thanks to Aaron Harrison’s long, contested 3-pointer, Kentucky topped the previous season’s national finalist, 75-72.
The long anticipated matchup between new conference rivals, Duke and Syracuse, did not disappoint. The Orange, in front of 35,446 fans inside the Carrier Dome, took down the Blue Devils 91-87 in overtime. Rasheed Sulaimon forced the extra frame with a buzzer-beating three. Syracuse, leading by one, was aided by a favorable no-call as Rodney Hood missed a dunk over Jerami Grant. The bigger Syracuse frontline was led by C.J. Fair’s 28 points and Grant’s 24. Duke countered with 15 threes. The second meeting between the two storied programs and two Hall of Fame coaches was equally as memorable.
The upset of the tournament was No. 14 seed Mercer over No. 3 seed Duke. The Blue Devils had struggled on the defensive end all season long, and those problems came to light in the Round of 64 with the Bears shooting 55 percent from the field. Duke hit 15 threes, but took close to 40 attempts from beyond the arc. However, as a team, Duke was 35 percent from the field with Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood combining for 20 points off 6-of-24 shooting.
The first of two games between the Cowboys and Cylcones went to triple overtime with Iowa State pulling out a 98-97 win. In the second overtime, DeAndre Kane’s offensive rebound turned into a 3-pointer for Naz Long, tying the score at 89-all and forcing an additional five minutes. Iowa State took control in the third overtime and while Oklahoma State had its chances, the Cowboys couldn’t convert.
The Lumberjacks were a trendy upset pick as the No. 12 seed. Stephen F. Austin had won 28 straight and had one of the nation’s top defenses, though, late in the game against No. 5 seed VCU, it looked as if that upset bid would come up short. That was until Desmond Haymon was fouled on a four-point play to tie the score with 3.6 seconds left, which forced overtime. The Lumberjacks prevailed in overtime and advanced to the Round of 32.
The Louisville All-American hit a game-winner with two seconds left to led the Cardinals to a road victory over Cincinnati in February. Smith was clutch down the stretch with a pair of assists in the game’s final moments.
Tennessee became a dangerous No. 12 seed, rolling through UMass in the Round of 64 while missing out on a matchup with Duke — thanks to the Mercer upset — in the following round. The Volunteers nearly reached the Elite 8, erasing a double-digit lead only to have a controversial charge call go against them late in the game. Jarnell Stokes was called for a player-control foul on Jordan Morgan, with Michigan leading by one, with six seconds left.