Last night, Villanova basketball’s men’s and women’s teams were formally introduced to the Nova Nation for Hoops Mania in the Finneran Pavilion. In a night filled with celebration of last season, honoring Villanova basketball alumni and throwing streamers, the festivities were capped off with a performance by rapper Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd.
The evening started off with the reintroduction of Villanova basketball alumni including Reggie Redding, Malik Wayns, James Bell, Kris Jenkins, Phil Booth and many others. After introducing the current men’s and women’s rosters, the returning players for the men’s squad received their 2019 Big East championship rings. Both teams put on a dance number with the help of the Villanova dance team. The song choices for the dance paid tribute to previous Hoops Mania performers and their hit songs from the time they performed from 50 Cent all the way up to most recently, French Montana.
Following the performance put on by the men’s and women’s teams was the three-point shootout, where four participants (one each from the men’s and women’s rosters and two from The Nation fan group) would each shoot a rack of basketballs for a point apiece with the money ball being worth two points. In a four-team tournament, a team that consisted of sophomore forward Cole Swider and junior guard Raven James won the contest.
Following the long ball competition, the men’s team played a short scrimmage. Sophomore forward Brandon Slater threw an alley oop to his captain, junior guard Jermaine Samuels, for a thunderous dunk. Following the slam, fans in the student sections threw streamers on the court, a Hoops Mania tradition. The rest of the scrimmage played similarly to the NBA All-Star Game, which is notoriously known for its lack of defense. After a Collin Gillespie triple for Team White, Team Blue was punished at half court with five pushups.
To get the crowd warmed up for Swae Lee’s performance, the men’s team put on a dunk contest featuring Slater, Samuels, Gillespie, and Tulane transfer Caleb Daniels. Samuels took home the dunk crown in a dunk off with his fellow captain, Gillespie, after throwing down a self-alley oop off the backboard.
With the anticipation building up throughout the night, head coach Jay Wright announced the commencement of the performance by Swae Lee. The Rae Sremmurd rapper performed his top hits such as “No Type,” “Unforgettable,” “Powerglide” and “Sunflower.” Swae Lee even crowd surfed from one side of the court to the other to shoot a three of his own, which he finally converted after a few attempts. The men’s basketball roster will be back in the Pavilion this upcoming Thursday for their annual Blue/White Scrimmage at 7:30 p.m.