Basketball

'Still in shock': Alumnus Ramon Sessions was on hand for Nevada's stunning victory

Nevada guard Hallice Cooke leads the cheers after beating Cincinnati on Sunday.
Nevada guard Hallice Cooke leads the cheers after beating Cincinnati on Sunday. AP

"It's been a great month."

Ramon Sessions probably couldn't have summed up how his life has gone recently much better.

The Myrtle Beach native has gone from an NBA free agent to a player getting major minutes as a backup point guard on a team destined for the playoffs, he was able to witness his collegiate alma mater pull of a stunning NCAA tournament win in person and he's gotten to watch his old AAU coach pull off one of the biggest upsets of March.

In Nashville, Tennessee to watch his collegiate alma mater, seventh-seeded Nevada, complete the second-biggest comeback in NCAA tournament history in a 75-73 win over second-seeded Cincinnati, Sessions was ecstatic.

"Still in shock right now with what just happened," said Sessions, an 11-year NBA veteran now with the Washington Wizards who in recent years donated $1 million to the University of Nevada toward funding a new basketball practice facility. "Man, it was unbelievable. Obviously, to be there, you know, the first tournament experience outside of being a player to be there to go see the Wolf Pack play - to be part of history - was unbelievable."

The Wolf Pack rallied from 22 points down in the final 11 minutes to pull a stunner, a comeback only eclipsed by BYU, which in 2012 overcame a 25-point deficit to top Iona.

Sessions played in three NCAA tournaments with Nevada from 2005-07 and won twice but never reached the Sweet 16. The Wolf Pack are in the third round for the second time and first time since 2004.

"I've still just got to take it all in, man," Sessions said. "It was just great to be there to see everybody, though, just to support the team."

Sessions has also been keeping an eye on Marshall, coached by his former AAU coach, Dan D'Antoni, whose team advanced to the second round as a 13th seed and was playing in-state rival and No. 5 seed West Virginia on Sunday night in a game that would decide the final berth into the Sweet 16.

"Just to be able to see Coach D out there with his suit jacket on with his Marshall T-shirt looking real Coach D-ish - the only thing that was missing was the flip flops," Sessions said with a laugh. "It was really good to see Coach D out there, man, to see what's he's been doing with that program - I think it was the first time they've been to the tournament since 1987 or something - and to get a win [is awesome]."

Sessions said he visited D'Antoni at Marshall a couple summers ago and got a glimpse of things to come.

"I got to see some of the stuff he had and he told me to just give him a couple years," Sessions said. "They're playing basketball. They're playing D'Antoni-style basketball."

Sessions, meanwhile, is back to playing his own brand of basketball. On Friday, he was signed by Washington for the rest of the season following a pair of 10-day contracts.

Unlike his first 10-day contract - in which he didn't play a minute as a third-stringer behind Tomas Satoransky and Tim Frazier - Sessions has played as the primary backup in the past six games.

"It feels good. It all worked out. You know, the first 10 days obviously I didn't play, but I stayed ready and got the work in and just tried to learn the system," Sessions said. "And then the second 10 days when my name was called I was just ready to go. It's a familiar situation, a familiar team. Obviously it's a new coach, but it's a familiar system being with those guys."

Before joining Washington, a team he had played for previously, Sessions was without a squad and his career was in limbo after being waived - for the first time in his career - by the New York Knicks. Now, he's back on track.

"At the end of the day, the New York thing I feel like worked out best for both parties. They were able to go to the G League and get some of their younger talent to come up and then I was able to go to a playoff team," said Sessions, 31. "With all those things, it just worked out and I'm just looking forward to the rest of the season and the playoffs."

The basketball gods appear to be playing to Sessions' favor these days. He said he'll get to see the Wolf Pack in person again Thursday in Atlanta, where he resides, because the Wizards play on Wednesday and Friday this week.

"Nothing's stopping me now," he said.

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