When Eric Musselman settles in on the visitor’s bench at McKeon Pavilion Friday night to watch his team take on 17th-ranked Saint Mary’s College, he will see a close friend down the way.
Musselman and veteran Saint Mary’s College head coach Randy Bennett have known each other since Musselman was a player at the University of San Diego and Bennett was a grad assistant.
“We sat next to each other for one whole year and yelled at the officials,” Musselman said at Wednesday’s press conference. “Coach (Hank) Egan would look down the bench to see who was yelling.
“Coach Bennett has done an unbelievable job of building that program. I remember playing a game there (at McKeon) where there were not many people there, and Friday I understand it’s a sellout. He is one of the best coaches in the country. What he has done there is mind boggling.”
Bennett has had just one losing season and one .500 record in his SMC tenure, compiling a 333-151 record in his 14 previous seasons.
After Musselman was fired by the Kings, he spent a lot of time sitting in Bennett’s office talking life and basketball.
“It was the closest college to me (he lived in Danville), and my two sons and I would hang out,” Musselman said. “We went to his father-son camp.
“We have a long standing friendship and I have a great deal of respect for him.”
Men’s team signs JC forward
Musselman dipped into the junior college ranks for his lone early signing recruit when 6-9 Shawntrez Davis signed a national letter of intent.
Coming out of high school, Davis was a four-star recruit at Sound Doctrine Christian Academy. He was ranked the 187th best player by 247Sports. He spent one season at Palm Beach College, averaging 11.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He transferred to South Plains, and the team is currently 3-0 and ranked fifth in the country. Davis is averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds a contest in two games.
“We are absolutely thrilled to officially bring Shawntrez into our Wolf Pack family,” Musselman said. “He had a great visit with us. The most important thing about the visit was how the current players felt about him as a person. He was really excited to come here. He fell in love with the campus and the players that will be his teammates.
“On film, he played a lot of power forward. We feel like he can play both. He fits the blueprint. We want to have a lot of players between 6-4 and 6-8 or 6-9, and players that can play multiple positions. I felt good about Shawntrez after talking to the Palm Beach coach, we thought he would be a very good fit. He didn’t let three or four days go by before he returned texts. We had such great communication back and forth. I think he did his research on us.”
Women add one
Veteran coach Jane Albright announced the signing of 5-foot-7 guard Janelle Sumilong from Hanford High School to a national letter of intent to kick the early signing period.
Sumilong averaged 19.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 4.8 assists per game. She has scored 1,611 points entering her senior season, and was Player of the Year in the Yosemite League after scoring more than 600 points last season.
“She comes from a championship culture,” Albright said. “We are super excited about having her here. She is a 4.0 student and was being recruited by the Ivy League.
“She is very explosive. She has a nice shot, can shoot the 3 (32 percent on 3s, 50 percent overall). When you defend her, you definitely need to know where she is.”
Nevada hosts perennial powerhouse Long Beach State Friday in its season-opening game.