After two years off(2017 with an outdoor performance and 2018 with no musical performer at all) Villanova Basketball’s Hoops Mania got back to its roots and what makes it the tradition it is with a musical performance by half of the rap duo Rae Sremmurd , Swae Lee. But as always, Swae Lee’s act – which included an arrangement of his own songs, Rae Sremmurd songs, and various covers including the recent hit Sunflower – was just the capper to the larger event.
To start off the event, the PA announcer introduced this year’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, and the returning members of the men’s team were presented with their Big East championship rings. There was also a return of many program legends to the Pavilion; among the players who returned were Maalik Wayns, James Bell and Reggie Redding. On either side of the men’s player introductions, the mainly student crowd in attendance was greeted by videos recorded by recent 2019 NBA Champion Kyle Lowry and Eric Paschall.
Special having our alums here for Hoops Mania - Once A Wildcat Always A Wildcat ! pic.twitter.com/iOebuNON24— Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright) October 5, 2019
Finally, the grand reveal of the night – other than the open secret of Swae Lee’s performance – was brought out. Phil Booth, up I-95 from Washington where he is preparing for his rookie season with the Wizards, came out to help Jay Wright present the 2019 Big East Tournament banner. Kris Jenkins also came out to hype up the crowd.
At this point, the games began. First, four teams made up of one men’s player, one women’s player, and two members of “The Nation” fan group, competed in a three-point tournament. An Eric Dixon/Kelly Jekot led team faced off against team Cole Swider/Raven James, with Swider and James coming out on top.
As an extra bonus, there was one more 3-point contest between members of the current team and a group of alumni. The Villanova team was made up of Cole Swider, Eric Dixon, Justin Moore, and Chris Arcidiacono. The alumni team included Phil Booth, James Bell, Maalik Wayns, and Reggie Redding. The alumni team won in spectacular fashion, including a perfect 5 for 5 from Bell.
Next was the inaugural scrimmage, and the tradition of students throwing streamers onto the court was continued when Brandon Slater tossed an alley-oop to Jermaine Samuels, triggering the streamers on a dunk for the second year in a row. In a battle of white team vs blue team, the white team, led by Collin Gillespie won, 16-11. Caleb Daniels played, Bryan Antoine did not as he continues to rehab a shoulder surgery.
A great VU and Philly tradition !! pic.twitter.com/B816CO7vLu— Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright) October 6, 2019
Finally was the dunk contest. Slater, Samuels, Daniels, and Gillespie faced off. All put on a show, and while Gillespie managed to make the finals for the second year running, he was defeated by Samuels in the final via a one-handed jam off the backboard.
Swae Lee’s performance was entertaining, if not spectacular. He did earn big cheers by crowd surfing the length of the Pavilion, shooting on the opposite basket from the stage, and performing from the lower stands – getting up close and personal with the students who had rushed the court.