What does Amarion Nimmers bring to Iowa basketball?

Walk-ons are an essential part of any college basketball program.

During practice, they play a crucial role and are often responsible for acting as secondary coaches during games. Most of them don’t see the floor often during their careers, but some are slept on in high school, break through the ranks in college, and end up being rotation players or even starters.

The latter is the mindset of Rock Island (Ill.) 2022 combo guard and new Iowa walk-on commit amarion nimmers.

Nimmers is coming off a strong senior season for the Rocks. The 6-foot-2 Nimmers finished the season averaging 23.9 points per game, including a three-game stretch in December, where he averaged 30 points per game.

Nimmers had college interest for most of his senior season, but one of the games that put him on the map was his 45-point performance in front of Iowa head coach Frank McCaffery in December.

Nimmers’ only D1 offer came from Eastern Illinois despite a productive senior season. Schools such as UT-Chattanooga, Elon, Pennsylvania, and a few Ivy League programs were all showing interest late in the process, but many programs were playing it slow due to the transfer portal, scholarship numbers, and other reasons.

McCaffery also kept a close eye on Nimmers, but the thought was that a Missouri Valley school or other mid to low-major program would scoop him up. When April hit, and Nimmers was still available, Iowa started to ramp up the interest.

Illinois also got involved. The mid-major programs listed above were very intrigued with Nimmers’ potential, though it came down to the Big Ten programs, which wanted him both as a preferred walk-on.

Nimmers took unofficial visits to Iowa and Illinois on back-to-back days but ultimately decided on Iowa.

“He checks the boxes of what Iowa is looking for,” Rock Island head coach Marc Polite told 247Sports. “I think they’re getting a steal.”

Polite just wrapped up his first season as the head coach at Rock Island. Polite was formerly the boy’s basketball coach at Davenport North and had coaching stints in the D1, D2, and JUCO ranks.

Polite was born in Rock Island, and his mother attended the high school. Polite, however, went to United Township for high school before playing his collegiate ball at Eastern Illinois for four years.

Polite had always followed Rock Island’s rich tradition of basketball and feels that Nimmers is up there as one of the best to come through the high school.

“I know the school’s history, so when you have a player that talented, it’s a head-scratcher when a kid like him is not getting the looks,” Polite said of Nimmers.

Luckily for Iowa, Nimmers slipped through the cracks and looks to be the next walk-on that has the potential to be a regular contributor in the Big Ten.

“I’m the type of coach that tries to play to his player’s strengths,” Polite said. “As the more I got to know Amarion, I started to learn that I didn’t need to run anything for him. He just finds points. There were moments and times where we put him in different positions to get isolations and different things like that. Most of the time, we didn’t need to do that because he could just find his own points on the offense. Finding an angle on a guy, on a catch rip and go, a catch and shoot situation, I mean, he finds points.”

“We’d have games where I look at the staff and say, ‘are you kidding me?’ It’s midway through the second quarter, and he has 18 points in a quarter and a half, and it doesn’t feel like he has that many points. Usually, a kid that scores that many points, he’s going off, he’s hot, he’s hitting shot after shot after shot, but he is just so productive and finds ways to get buckets whether it’s transition, offensive rebound, catch and shoot, or a set play that we run. He just always finds ways to put the ball in the basket.”

“He can shoot it, play off the dribble, recognize and beat guys on mismatches. He has a body to him where he can body guys. He can attack, slash, and get to the rim against a bigger guy. He does a little bit of everything.”

A bad ankle sprain left Nimmers in a tough spot throughout most of his junior season and then this past AAU season. That limited his exposure to him playing in front of college coaches and also hindered his athleticism.

However, he played most of his senior season healthy, which gave him a chance to show what he could do.

Despite the lack of offers, there was no shortage of schools interested in him.

“I would get five to six calls a week about him asking for film, asking for information, conversations, etc.,” Polite said. “There were a lot of schools that I felt were involved, but were waiting to see what was going to happen in the portal. That was the consistent feedback I was getting. I think many schools were still hoping that he would be around later in May.”

Iowa was one of the schools to make a move on Nimmers. Though the Hawkeyes did not offer him a full-ride scholarship, there is a lot of excitement about what Nimmers can add to the program in due time.

Iowa has had numerous walk-ons make an impact, most recently another Quad Cities native in Nicholas Baerand there is a lot of belief that Nimmers can do much of the same at some point.

“I think he fits well,” Polite said of Nimmers. “He’s dynamic. I use that term all the time when describing him because he can do so many different things. He’s fast, shifty, explosive, and just does stuff. He’s one of those kinds of guys. He can play, pass, and do a lot of different things.”

“I think any coach would want a kid where when it’s tough, and you get in a certain type of situation, you need guys that can make plays, create things for themselves and other people, that’s one of the things he can definitely do. ”

“I think it’s an opportunity for him to play at that level. I think he is a kid that has confidence and thinks that he can help them.”

Nimmers is the third member of Iowa’s 2022 class, along with Brewster Academy three-star point guard Dason Bowen and Council Bluffs Lincoln three-star combo guard Josh Dix.

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