Many college basketball fans probably have never seen a player that is 6'7" and weighs 310 lbs. If they would imagine the style of play he would display, I doubt they would picture someone that can dribble behind his back and shoot from long range.
However, that is exactly what you get out of James Eayrs, a senior forward for Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He may rather eat white chocolate than be called "White Chocolate," but Eayrs possesses a varied skill set.
There are times in games that senior point guard Ricky Franklin is given a break from his ball-handling responsibilities, and Eayrs will bring the ball up court and into scoring position. He is known for being one of the best passers on the team.
When receiving the ball in the post, there is no move that Eayrs doesn't utilize to score the basket. He brags that he even has moves on the dance floor.
As the Panthers continue to advance in the Horizon League Tournament, he and his teammates may be able to dance all the way to a NCAA bid.
What is most amazing about Eayrs' game is his ability to hit the long-range shot. A quick release has enabled Eayrs to convert 33.1 percent of his shots from three-point distance this season.
There are shooting guards in Division I basketball who don't display his range or the confidence to attempt as many shots as he does. So far this year, Eayrs has shot 142 times from beyond the arc.
Before the season commenced, Eayrs was named to the preseason All-Horizon League Second Team. Although the preseason recognition didn't translate to postseason honors, he has averaged 12.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in his senior campaign.
Five times this season, Eayrs has scored at least 20 points in a game. In a game last year versus Texas State, he made six three-point baskets.
While he may fool you at first glance, Eayrs has worked hard in improving his physique and endurance. He is second on UWM in minutes played at 27.5 per game.
Although Eayrs' lack of speed handicaps him on the defensive end of the floor, he has improved his lateral quickness.
While playing at North Dakota State College of Science, Eayrs tipped the scales at about 350 pounds. When his current coach Rob Jeter scouted Eayrs at an AAU game, he was probably close to 390. Even with all that excess baggage, Eayrs scored 1,156 points in junior college.
In last night's game vs. Cleveland State, Eayrs scored 11 points and converted on two of his three three-point attempts to help UWM defeat the Vikings 82-75.
The Panthers, the No. 4 seed, have advanced to the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament where they next face the Butler Bulldogs, the No. 1 seed.
Eayrs' skills will be on full display tonight as the game will be broadcast by ESPNU . Although the Panthers may not be able to defeat the Bulldogs at the legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse, his play will hugely impact this game.
Fans at the game tonight may called him a "hot dog," but Eayrs would probably prefer if they just gave him one when the contest is over.
Photo Credit: Rick Wood/JSonline.com
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