Nevada is glad to be in Sessions | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada is glad to be in Sessions

DARRELL MOODY

RENO – When Mark Fox was hired as Nevada’s new basketball coach last spring, the first thing he did was attempt to fill a scholarship that departed coach Trent Johnson wanted to leave vacant.

Most of the good players had already been signed by then, but that didn’t detour Fox. He called Bob Gibbons, who runs a national scouting service. Gibbons told Fox about a kid named Ramon Sessions, the 3A Player of the Year in South Carolina, who had just passed his SAT and became eligible.

Fox flew out to Myrtle Beach and met with Sessions, and his high school coach Buddy Rogers, and was able to close the deal for the 6-3 guard.

It could be the steal of the century, or at the very least, the season. And, schools like Coastal Carolina, South Carolina and Clemson could be kicking themselves down the road for not waiting on Sessions’ test results.

“Bob always thought highly of Ramon both as a young man and a player,” said Buddy Rogers, Sessions’ old high school coach in Myrtle Beach. “I saw parts of a game or two (of Nevada). I try to keep up with college basketball. They are way out West, and we don’t get all the information out here on the East Coast. I was aware of Nevada, and knew they had developed into a good team. I was a little surprised at their success last year.

“He (Fox) came to Myrtle Beach and I talked to him several times on the phone. I can see why Ramon wanted to go there. I was real impressed with the whole operation. Sometimes it works out for the best when you qualify late.”

You won’t get any argument from Sessions. He’s happy with his new home and he likes his teammates.

“Coach Fox is a great guy,” Sessions said. “He came out here and we got that going. He’s a guy that I wanted to play for.

“My teammates have pushed me to play hard. I feel good out there because of my teammates.”

When Sessions came to the Nevada campus, he met ex-Wolf Pack star Kirk Snyder, who urged him to sign with Nevada.

With the jury still out on Kyle Shiloh and Lyndale Burleson finally being declared ineligible, Sessions has been a godsend. One has to wonder how Nevada would be able to function if Fox hadn’t lured him out west.

Sessions has been the most impressive of Fox’s first recruiting class through the first five games of the season, averaging 8.5 points, 5.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per outing. He’s stepped in at point guard and delivered the goods.

“I’ve played point guard my whole life,” he said. “I’d rather play point than be a combo guard. The biggest thing I had to learn was the plays.”

Sessions opened the season with back-to-back games with no turnovers at the Jim Thorpe Classic, and he’s done a nice job of distributing the ball. Just last week against Kansas, Sessions had a 10-assist game, and he came back with nine more against Toledo last Tuesday.

“Ramon has played well,” Fox said. “He’s doing a nice job.

“He is the highest ranked high school player in our conference, and to get him in August is great. He’s going to be a good player for us. I thought we needed help (at guard).”

What’s impressive about Sessions is his remarkable poise. He doesn’t play with a lot of emotion. Sometimes when you look at his face, you don’t know whether the Wolf Pack is ahead or behind.

“Ramon has the mentality of a point guard,” Fox said. “He’s played a lot of basketball at a very high level. He’s more experienced than a lot of freshman guards. He’s done a good job taking care of the ball. I’m pleased with how he’s played and how he runs the team.”

And, that’s exactly what Sessions wants to be, a leader on the court. Watching him direct traffic on the floor is like watching a conductor lead a orchestra. He is always looking for somebody that has a better shot before he starts looking at the basket.

That’s not to say that Sessions can’t score. He scored 52 points against Carolina Forest High School his junior year en route to leading his team to the state title. A year later, he tallied 54 points against Lake City High School.

“Then I was looking to score more,” he said. “I would get the ball and go with it. We didn’t have a lot of other scorers. I love playing point guard. I’ve been doing that most of my life. I like the responsibility; the pressure that comes with it.”

Sessions had his best game last weekend against Pacific, scoring a career-high 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting, including a three-pointer. He had 10 first-half points, helping Nevada wipe out an early 13-point deficit. He also hit a couple of big hoops in the second half, helping the Pack wipe out a nine-point deficit.

“I wasn’t looking to score,” he said. “I just got them through the offense.”

And, the Wolf Pack hope he can continue to score and have a good assist-to-turnover ratio. He currently ranks third in the WAC in that category, and if he has a couple of more nice games like Pacific, he could be at the top of the heap.

Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281.