University of Akron men’s basketball coach John Groce is proud to see the development that is taking place with senior Jimond Ivey.
Ivey is one of four Zips players that stayed through the transition from Keith Dambrot to Groce when Dambrot left UA to coach at Duquesne University in March 2017.
Then-senior starters Kwan Cheatham Jr. and Isaiah Johnson had completed their eligibility, and several other players either transferred to another college or joined Dambrot at Duquesne.
Ivey, Daniel Utomi, Emmanuel Olojakpoke and Marquelle McIntyre remained on campus, and Groce is seeing Ivey emerge as a leader for UA (7-4) as it travels to Reno to meet nationally ranked Nevada (11-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“I know our guys in the locker room appreciate him and I appreciate him,” Groce said Tuesday regarding Ivey, who surpassed 1,000 career points in an 82-70 win over visiting Tennessee State.
“As important as the points are and all of that and the winning, I am just as proud as who he has started to become over the 19 months that I have been here. He has changed in a lot of really positive ways and matured as a player and as a person.”
Ivey, a 6-foot-5 guard-forward, became the 44th player in UA men’s basketball history to reach 1,000 career points Tuesday. He enters Saturday with 1,013 points in 111 games.
“I have been through a lot here — ups and downs, wins and losses,” Ivey said. “I am blessed and I am grateful for it because, even the downs and the losses I learned from, and I can take with me through life and through whatever I am going to do next. It has been a long road, but it is not over with yet.
“I have had a lot of good guys in my corner like coach [Daryl] Bolden and coach [Michael] Holt to keep pushing me [at Cleveland Glenville High School]. The fact that I am here, it inspires a lot of people from where I am from that are playing basketball around that area because growing up, a lot of people think you have to go to Shaker [Heights] or go to Garfield [Heights] or go to a private school to even get on the Division I level in [college] basketball. I could have went to any school I wanted to, but I stayed and I am here and I am thankful for that.”
Ivey, who is one of Therisa and Anthony Ivey’s seven sons, is also appreciative of what Dambrot and Groce have brought to his life.
“They have both helped me tremendously,” Ivey said. “Coming in here as a freshman, you want to play more and you want a lot of stuff, and I was struggling with that at first and then I was dealing with injuries. I can say that Coach Dambrot did a good job with keeping me mellow about things.
“Coach Groce then came in here and immediately when I first met him I knew that I could believe in him and follow his way. He helps me a lot. … I am just thankful for both of them and I am just blessed to have two great coaches in my college career.”
Nevada is ranked No. 6 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls after posting a 29-8 record last season and reaching the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.
The Wolf Pack are coached by Eric Musselman, who was born in Ashland and graduated from Brecksville High School and the University of San Diego. His father, Bill Musselman, coached the Cavaliers in the early 1980s.
Nevada’s starting five features 6-7 senior twin brothers Caleb Martin and Cody Martin, 6-7 senior Jordan Caroline, 6-11 senior Trey Porter and 6-8 senior Tre’Shawn Thurman.
“We know this is going to be a great challenge,” Groce said. “We have great respect for them, but our guys love challenges and we love competition.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com.