People and Community Sports

On the road to witness historic hoops

From Greenville, South Carolina, to Houston, Texas, a trio of ’Canes fans—including a former women’s basketball player—have been following the success of the women’s and men’s basketball teams.
Wimer and friends
Left to right: Cassaundra Wimes, her mother Joycelyn Lee, and close friend, Renae Patterson in Houston to cheer on the men's basketball team. Photo: Joshua Prezant/University of Miami.

When Cassaundra Wimes played small forward for the University of Miami women’s basketball team in the 1990s, her games were held in the old Hecht Athletic Center on the Coral Gables campus, in front of crowds that pale in comparison to the attendance numbers the current men’s and women’s teams draw. 

“There was no Watsco Center back then, no big crowds. But we still generated a lot of excitement,” Wimes said Friday as she sat in Shula’s Steakhouse inside the Hyatt Regency Houston. “To see how Hurricanes basketball has grown so tremendously in the past few years—the sell-out crowds, an arena that seats thousands—is just awesome.” 

Wimes is in Houston to watch the Hurricanes men’s team compete in the coveted Final Four, and as she ate breakfast at Shula’s with her mom, Joycelyn Lee, and close friend, Renae Patterson, she couldn’t help but reminisce about her former playing days at the U and compliment the men’s team for its magical season. 

“This is historic, surreal,” she said. “It’s every college basketball student-athlete’s dream to play on this stage. And the discipline it takes to be an athlete at this level is unparalleled.” 

Wimes knows that better than anyone. During her collegiate career as a ’Canes hoops star, she played in both the NCAA and WNIT tournaments, an experience she proudly said she’ll “treasure for a lifetime.” 

Her trip to Houston is part of what many Hurricanes hoops fans might consider the ultimate fan experience. It started last week with a flight to Atlanta, Georgia, where Wimes, along with Patterson, picked up her mom, and drove to Greenville, South Carolina, to watch the Hurricanes women’s team defeat the Villanova Wildcats in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. 

After the women’s team’s historic run ended with a loss to LSU in the Elite 8, Wimes, Lee, and Patterson, drove to Houston for the men’s Final Four, arriving on Thursday to take in the atmosphere. 

“It’s been exciting,” Wimes said. 

“A proud moment for the women, indeed,” said Patterson, who earned her nursing degree from the University when Wimes was also a student at the school. “Interestingly, our paths never crossed until we met at the Final Four 15 years ago. Now, we’re the best of friends.” 

Wimes, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University in 1998, followed by a master’s in counseling psychology two years later, has a message for ’Canes fans supporting the men as they compete in Houston: “Keep the support going.” 

She is now an adjunct professor in the School of Education and Human Development’s Department of Educational and Psychological Studies, helping to hone the skills of graduate students who endeavor to become mental health professionals.   

Lee, a retired postal worker, always knew her daughter was “a natural born leader.” 

“She was self-driven with the God-given gift of being very intellectual,” said Lee, a retired postal worker who now lives in Atlanta, Georgia. “I just helped to enhance what she was already born with, and I’m proud that she’s the first in our family to earn a college degree. She set the tone and energy for the whole family.”