Ramon Sessions (left) and Eric Musselman (right) explore the new Ramon Sessions Basketball Performance Center last Friday, September 15, 2017. Sessions donated $1 Million towards the project.

In the recruiting arms race in college athletics, one of the areas that the Wolf Pack has been seriously lacking in is having dedicated indoor practice facilities for its basketball teams. During the mid-2000s national run of the men’s basketball team in the NCAA Tournament, the clamor for a dedicated facility began.

“This is a project that we have been talking about in this University, for a long time,” said Nevada Athletic Director Doug Knuth during an informal ceremony and tour of the new basketball practice facility last Friday. “In fact, former coaches Trent Johnson, Mark Fox really got the conversation rolling over a decade ago, talking about for a need for an indoor practice facility for men’s and women’s basketball.”

For mid-majors such as Nevada, the problem has always been having a big-name donor taking the leap of faith to spearhead a fundraising campaign. Former Nevada point guard Ramon Sessions, who was inducted into the Wolf Pack Hall of Fame last Friday, was the guinea pig who helped fan that spark into a flame by pledging $1 million towards the cause last fall.On Friday morning, Sessions and other donors gathered outside the new Ramon Sessions Basketball Performance center to tour the facilities and see the progress of the $3 million project.
“When I got to the NBA the first thing that I thought was ‘I’m here now, my dream in the NBA but how can I change lives?’ Sessions said. “Growing up the way I grew up, it was all about giving back and this is just one of those things that I felt like I needed to do”Formerly the Lombardi Recreation Center, the building is being converted into a practice facility that will have state of the art training equipment, basketball courts, film rooms, offices, locker rooms and a nutrition bar.
The construction of the new facilities is a two-phase project. The first phase, which is due to be complete by October 1, is the completion of the basketball gymnasium area. With this estimated completion date, both basketball teams will already be able to utilize it during their preseason training.“We’ve got two courts, eight baskets,” Knuth said. “We’ll be resurfacing the floor, new lights, new paint, scoreboard, a little sound system.”
Adjacent to the courts will be the film room and coaches offices and a medical training room. According to Q&D Construction project superintendent Mike Roher, one of the best features will be the new speaker system in both the basketball gymnasium and weight room. To counter the loud music, both rooms will be fully sound-proof.The second phase, which is estimated to be completed by January is the refurbished training room. The mezzanine area will have a small cardio and stretching area as well as more offices. Beneath that, the open area will be home to state of the art free weights, a small grass track, medicine ball wall, and a nutrition bar.
Friday’s ceremony that recognized the other key players in the project such as Rick Reviglio, Chris Aremini, and Rory Hickok, was a pioneering event for Nevada Athletics. Doug Knuth, who has fundraised for a number of projects during his tenure, believes that Sessions’ contributions helped set the precedent of giving back for other Nevada alumni.“I think the other folks notice when they see that,” Knuth said. “I think that there’s something unique and special happening right now too. We’ve done a really good job these past couple of years of reaching out to our former athletes in all sports and reengaging and reconnecting and asking them to come back, honoring their teams, and all that stuff. I think that’s all translating to more and more former athletes making the decision to give back and help out.”