Kira Lewis Jr. Shines Against Kansas State and Former Team USA Coach Bruce Weber
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - University of Alabama guard Kira Lewis, Jr. did not have to use any extra motivation for his stellar performance in the Crimson Tide's thrilling, 77-74, win over Kansas State at Coleman Coliseum.
But he had every reason to.
Wildcats coach Bruce Weber was Lewis' coach on Team USA last summer during the team's run to a gold medal in the 2019 U19 FIBA World Cup.
Lewis came off of the bench in a reserve role for Weber's bunch, averaging only 10 minutes, four points, 1.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists during the team's seven games in that event.
On Saturday, Lewis dazzled against his former coach and the Wildcats, scoring a game-high 26 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and recording three blocks. He was also one of the four Crimson Tide players with at least two 3-pointers made.
"I guess you could say so," Lewis said when asked if there was any extra emotion for this game. "I try to approach every game like it is the same game, not get to high or to low. Him [Weber] being my coach, you know, having love for each other, I guess so."
The Huntsville, Ala. native led the Crimson Tide in plus/minus with a positive eight. When he was on the court, he was efficient.
Coming into this matchup, Weber knew what could of threat Lewis was, and, even then, his Wildcat team could not contain him down the stretch.
"26 points, you know, pretty good," Weber said. "Got downhill. Hit some big threes. He just played at a high level. We did a pretty good job on [John] Petty, never really let him get going. We could not control Kira and he made the big plays when it counted."
Weber noted that Lewis' international experience has had a big role in developing the sophomore standout.
"It is an honor for Kira to be on the [USA] team," Weber said. "Whether he played 20 minutes or five minutes, to represent the United States and win a gold medal. The other thing is, when I watch the other guys around the county, did it make them better? And he is a better player, part, I think Coach [Nate] Oats has done a nice job, part, he is a year older, and part, I hope he had that experience to put him in another gear."
Against the Wildcats and throughout this season, Lewis displayed everything that has him shooting up NBA mock drafts, speed, toughness, good shot-selection, and play-making abilities.
"You love his quickness," Weber said. "He has that burst of speed. He made a couple big daggers that changed the game. I think as he grows, how hard he should play, he has the chance to be special. Again, that is part of the summer, going against pros, older guys, and other countries, seeing what you have to do. Hopefully, that is a confidence builder for [Lewis]."