The Nevada Wolf Pack basketball team has a heap of fresh faces on this year’s squad. Among them is walk-on Ugo Amadi, a 21-year-old junior from Las Vegas, who has gone from dominating pick up games at Lombardi to playing for the Wolf Pack at Lawlor.
Before walking onto the Nevada squad, Amadi was a standout guard for Nevada high school powerhouse Bishop Gorman. He played and practiced alongside the talents of former NBA draft picks Stephen Zimmerman and Shabazz Muhammad, Chase Jeter and Rosco Allen while at Bishop Gorman and mentioned how the competitiveness was comparable to that of the current Nevada basketball team, on and off court. Amadi said Gorman prepared him for the challenges faced academically and athletically. In high school his grade point average was never less than a 3.4, and in his tenure at Nevada has never had under a 3.0. Bishop Gorman created a culture that he felt prepared him best for the life of a student athlete at the collegiate level. When he gets his degree in kinesiology he plans on attending physical therapy school, moving onto a masters program and hopefully starting his own practice
On the court, Amadi has been working to join the basketball team since his freshman year at the University of Nevada, Reno. He got his reputation as one of Lombardi’s best by always being on the hardwood at the school’s former gym. “I would be there every single day to get my work done” he said. This was echoed by players on the team and workers and students who played against him over the last couple of school years. While he did not try out his freshman year, he was continuing to put in work at Lombardi, playing intramural basketball and working out for two years trying to earn his spot on the school’s senior team.
When tryouts opened during the summer, Amadi made the best of his chance to make the team, although it was not a walk in the park. He said of the tryout process, “You don’t know what’s going to happen, you’ve got to work as much as you can.” Amadi also spoke of the constant uncertainty of being a walk on, saying he tries to take advantage of every opportunity given.
Amadi has high team expectations for the upcoming season. He expects the team to build up camaraderie and chemistry on their way to a Mountain West title. “We’ve got a lot of great transfers and great players and I think that we can do something big this year.” Something as big as, in Amadi’s own words, advancing further in the NCAA tournament than last year after a first round defeat to the hands of Iowa State.
The team camaraderie already seems like it’s on the right track as Amadi and others have said there is a family atmosphere in the locker room. Team chemistry also seems to be advancing as the Pack have two exhibition wins under their belt. “I consider everybody on the team as my brother,” Amadi said. This can best be seen in the relationship he has with teammate Jordan Caroline. The two are frequently seen on and off the court together almost as if they are related by blood.
Amadi remained team-oriented even when talking about his personal expectations for the season. “I want to help the team as much as I can, whatever way it may be; in the classroom on the court.” He does not care about playing time as he kept reiterating the importance of the team winning. “It is important to stay mentally ready and mentally strong,” he continued, for when an opportunity does come up for him to get playing time.
Head coach Eric Musselman continued the high praise of Amadi. “He plays hard,” Musselman said “the players and coaching staff really like him.”
The Pack open the 2017-2018 season with a game against Idaho on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center.