Darrell Moody: Nevada Wolf Pack could be a scary, scary team
Many called the 2017-18 Nevada basketball team the best in school history after a 29-8 record and Sweet 16 appearance.
The 2018-19 Wolf Pack, according to coach Eric Musselman, has a chance to top last year even if the team loses any or all of the three players testing the NBA waters. Hard to believe that the team could be better without Cody and Caleb Martin, and Jordan Caroline.
Yet that is what Musselman told veteran college basketball writer Andy Katz of ncaa.com in a recent interview.
“We feel regardless of what happens with our three guys testing the NBA waters that we will have the best team we’ve ever had at Nevada,” Musselman told Katz. “That was our plan. We feel on paper, even if the three guys don’t return, we felt like we built this team to be our most talented team.”
Hard to believe you can lose three all-MW performers and be better, but that is how good Musselman feels about his recruiting class of grad transfers Trey Porter and Ehab Amin plus superstar freshman Jordan Brown, the much ballyhooed recruit from Prolific Prep in Napa. Two other freshmen frontliners — Vincent Lee from Texas and K.J. Hymes from Arizona — round out the recruiting class.
Musselman said Brown reminds him of former Cal great Shareef Abdur-Rahim
And, Musselman will have 6-7 Tre’Shawn Thurman, 5-10 Jazz Johnson, 6-2 Nisre Zouzoua and 6-3 Corey Henson, all of whom sat out after transferring from smaller D-1 schools. No matter what happens with the NBA Draft, there will be a lot of new faces.
“We’ve only been here three full seasons, and we tried to fill holes here and there,” Musselman said Monday in Legacy Hall. “One thing missing was size and depth, and we addressed those concerns.”
Certainly Porter, Brown and Thurman give the Pack some beef up front. Throw in Caroline if he opts to return, and you have four proven talents.
The addition of Amin gives Nevada a guy who can create some defensive havoc with the ability to get into passing lanes. Amin led the nation in steals a couple of years ago, and at 6-4 he gives the Pack good length in the backcourt.
Nevada was eight deep last season, and the Pack figures to be 10 or 11 deep this year. It is doubtful whether you see more than two walk-ons this season; there really isn’t a need.
“I feel we have great depth,” Musselman said. “Everybody on the roster can play. We can play faster, and we may play some junk defenses like we did in years 1 and 2. There are a lot of things we are going to tinker with in the off-season.
“We’ve had three great off-seasons, and we have to have another one. They are going to get hit with a lot of stuff on June 10 the night before summer school starts. We have not proven anything. We have so many new faces. On paper, it’s the tallest, deepest and most talented we’ve ever had. We need to have a great off-season. Guys are really going to have to work. We (coaches) are allowed only so much court time. Individually, they are going to have to get into the gym and self coach.”
This team could have different identities after May 30. Much depends on what the Martins decide to do. If they both leave, it could be a different type of team. If everybody returns. the national eye will be on Nevada from the outset.
Nevada currently has 15 on its roster, but the NCAA allows just 13 on scholarship. Musselman said Monday that teams are always over the limit even if they don’t have players testing the NBA waters like Nevada has. He said that situation will work itself out once the Martins and Caroline decide whether they are returning.
Musselman has to be torn. He’d love to see all three return, but he also can take pride in helping develop them for the next level which has been his big sales pitch to all the recruits. However, he knows that Nevada can be a scary, scary team if all three stay.