Thursday night UNLV held its annual “Runnin’ Rebel Madness” event, taking Jerry Tarkanian Court to the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center for a night outside. Fans were able to meet the men’s and women’s basketball teams and also take in three-point and dunk contests, with one of the judges for the dunk contest being Las Vegas native and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.
And while it won’t mean much when it comes to wins and losses, UNLV may have the best group of dunkers in college basketball this season. Freshman forward Derrick Jones’ exploits have appeared on this site in the past, and to no one’s surprise he won last night’s dunk contest. But guard Jaylen Poyser and Ike Nwamu can get up as well, and 7-foot freshman Stephen Zimmerman’s no slouch either.
Above are highlights from the dunk contest, with MyLVSports responsible for the footage.
UNLV added another piece to its 2015 recruiting class Saturday night, as former Mercer guard Ike Nwamu announced that he will complete his eligibility at the Mountain West school. As a graduate student the 6-foot-5 Nwamu will be eligible immediately for the Runnin’ Rebels, and his addition gives UNLV an athletic guard who can help them at both wing spots.
As a redshirt junior at Mercer, Nwamu averaged a team-best 15.1 points per game while also contributing 3.3 rebounds per contest and shooting nearly 43 percent from the field and 37.4 percent from beyond the arc. He’ll be one of two seniors in the UNLV backcourt rotation who began their careers at other schools, with former Rutgers guard Jerome Seagears eligible after sitting out last season per NCAA transfer rules.
The Runnin’ Rebels, who finished 18-15 and missed out on postseason play in 2014-15, have to account for the loss of Cody Doolin and Rashad Vaughn on the perimeter (and Christian Wood inside) and the addition of Nwamu will help in that regard. In addition to Seagears, Nwamu will be joined by Daquan Cook, Jordan Cornish, Pat McCaw and Jaylen Poyser in that part of the rotation.
Overall UNLV will add one of the nation’s best recruiting classes, with Stephen Zimmerman, Derrick Jones and Poyser being the incoming freshmen. Head coach Dave Rice and his staff won’t lack for talent as they look to rebound from what was a disappointing 2014-15.
Mercer grants leading scorer’s request to be released from scholarship
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.
Video credit: Mercer Athletics
Mercer’s Ike Nwamu might have the best set of dunks from Midnight Madness festivities (VIDEOS)
Midnight Madness festivities are known for being fan-friendly and catering towards students and casual college basketball fans to get them fired up for the upcoming season.
So, naturally, dunk contests become a big production at many schools.
Mercer had a dunk contest at their festivities on Friday night and 6-foot-5 junior guard Ike Nwamu stole the show.
Nwamu puts down many insane dunks, including this dunk in slow motion, jumping over his willing participant with a ferocious under-the-legs dunk.
As Mercer’s most experienced returner from last season’s NCAA Tournament team, Nwamu will be expected to put up decent numbers this season after averaging 8.9 points and 2.9 rebounds per game last season. But for now, Nwamu is putting up highlight-reel dunks and I haven’t seen a better one from Midnight Madness festivities yet.
The interesting thing about conferences that traditionally send just one team to the NCAA tournament is that the winner of the automatic bid is the team that many people remember. And for teams that win their regular season title only to lose in the conference tournament, that can be a bitter pill to swallow.
That was the case for Bob Hoffman’s Mercer Bears in 2012-13, as they won the Atlantic Sun regular season title but lost to FGCU in the tournament title game. As a result the Eagles earned that trip to the NCAA tournament, and after a magical weekend in Philadelphia they became the darlings of the event. That may have led to outsiders simply assuming that FGCU would roll to the A-Sun’s regular season crown this season, but Mercer once again has enough talent to not only contend but win the title.
On Sunday the Bears led at Ole Miss by as many as 18 points in the second half, only to see the Rebels storm back and lead 67-60 with 6:44 remaining. Mercer refused to go away however, and a Langston Hall three-pointer with two seconds remaining gave the Bears a 79-76 victory. The win is the second win over an SEC team within the last week for the Atlantic Sun, with USC Upstate knocking off South Carolina on Thursday. Jarvis Summers led Ole Miss with 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
Ike Nwamu scored 24 points and Hall added 17 for the Bears, who lost at Texas by three and beat Seton Hall in November. As a team five players entered Sunday’s game averaging 8.9 points per game or more, and on the season Mercer leads the A-Sun with an average of 81.2 points per game. That depth makes the Bears a difficult team for opponents to defend, and they’re one of the league’s best defensive teams as well.
Mercer’s win over Ole Miss is their third straight over an SEC opponent. Sunday’s result is notice that the Bears have every intention of defending their A-Sun regular season title while also looking to enjoy greater success in the conference tournament.