By Brandon Speck
MEMPHIS – Two North Mississippi coaches gave their basketball players some college basketball insight at a high level on Wednesday.
Tremont’s Brian Pearson and Hickory Flat’s Michael Seger carried players to the FedExForum to watch the open practices of NCAA Sweet 16 participants Dayton, UCLA, Stanford and Florida.
Pearson said he asked himself Tuesday night why he was bringing his team, including three in-coming seniors. He came up with the hopes that seeing this level of college basketball would inspire them to dig for their own potential.
“I think this generation of kids just don’t necessarily grow up watching basketball like I have,” Pearson said, “developing a love and desire for the game to figure some things out. I think experiences like this, get them out of a small town and let them see these kinds of athletes perform, hopefully something to spark some interest in some of them.”
Pearson brought eight players. Seger and girls coach J.C. Hayles brought two players.
“It’s a pretty good opportunity to see what hard work does for people,” Seger said. “Hopefully it will give us some incentive to have a long postseason run next year ourselves.”
In front of a crowd that included CBS broadcasters Reggie Miller, Len Elmore and Rachel Nichols, UCLA stole the attention while Seger talked when a midcourt shot went in from a UCLA player. The Bruins, who have today’s second game at 8:45 p.m. against overall No. 1 seed Florida, also put on a dunk show during their 50-minute workout.
“I guess they’re working on game-winners,” Seger said.
Surprising 10 and 11 seeds Stanford and Dayton play at 4:15 for a spot in the Elite Eight.
Incoming Tremont junior guard Walker Adams was among the Eagles in attendance.
“I like seeing how the college players practice, their techniques and skills, to learn from it as a player,” Adams said. “This is the first time I’ve ever gotten to do anything like this.”