Mercer grants leading scorer’s request to be released from scholarship

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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.