Healthy Charlo battles for spot in Wolf Pack rotation
RENO – In the time it takes for a physical exam, Mo Charlo went from being arguably Nevada’s top recruit to being unsure if he would ever play basketball again.
Charlo, Nevada’s 6-foot-7 swingman, was undergoing some tests and something was causing his blood pressure to go out of whack. Charlo was sent to Stanford Medical Center. The problem was eventually cleared up and Charlo was cleared to play, though he takes medication to keep his blood pressure at an acceptable level.
“It happened the first part of the summer,” Charlo said as he prepared for Nevada’s exhibition opener Nov. 4 at Lawlor Events Center against Dominican University, a Division II NAIA school. “They cleared me in mid or late July.
“I was real scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen. It (high blood pressure) runs in my family. I thought my career would be over. It was a shock to me. I never had any problems before though. I thank God that he let me play.”
Steve Coccimiglio, Charlo’s coach at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif., said the illness wasn’t a problem when Charlo played for him.
“It was never detected,” Coccimiglio said. “It was a serious thing in the summer. He had no problems with getting dizzy or feeling lightheaded at our place.”
With one big hurdle cleared, Charlo has set his sights on playing well enough to earn significant minutes from first-year head coach Mark Fox.
The 6-foot-7 Charlo comes to Nevada with impressive credentials. He was the first player in Diablo Valley College history to be named all-state two straight years. He averaged 18.1 points and 7.4 rebounds last season. He’s a tremendous offensive player with the ability to play inside and out.
“It was a good accomplishment for me,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and coach Coccimiglio. Nobody is capable of doing it by himself. They put me in a position where I could score and be successful. I like to slash. I can dribble the ball pretty well.
“Coach Fox said he would put me in positions where I can score. I’m not much at breaking down defenses. I’m better when we’re running through the offense and getting easy buckets.”
Charlo may be a bit modest. According to Coccimiglio, he has some tremendous skills.
“He can bounce it, pass it and he’s a very good 3-point shooter,” Coccimiglio said of his former player. “He hit a high percentage of 3-point shots. He has a very good stroke and his release is good. We would have him come off screens (down low). We used him a little more in the post because we had success with that.”
His ability to handle the ball and shoot it from the 3-point line has opened Fox’s eyes.
“Mo is really talented,” Fox said. “He has a lot of tools. He’s better handling the than we originally thought. We didn’t get a chance to see that as much.”
Charlo has been practicing at both the two and three slots by Fox. The two positions require virtually the same skills.
David Carter, Nevada’s top assistant coach, said the defection of shooting guard Kevyn Green won’t affect Charlo.
“Not really,” Carter said. “We have five or six guys that will have to play a couple of positions. This doesn’t change anything. We always thought he could play out there.”
Charlo doesn’t care where he plays. He just wants to be out there contributing at both ends of the floor.
“Wherever they need me,” he said. “I just want to get the job done.”
Sophomore Nick Fazekas, Nevada’s co-captain, likes what he’s seen from Charlo during informal summer and fall workouts.
“Mo is a good player,” Fazekas said. “He’s got great athleticism and experience going for him. He’s ready to come in and contribute real quick.”
Charlo has yet to step on the floor, though, and people are already comparing him to ex-Nevada star Kirk Snyder, who left school a year early and was a first-round draft pick by the Utah Jazz. It’s easy to see why people compare the two. They are the same height, play the same positions, are athletic and possess exciting offensive skills. And, like Snyder before him, big things are expected of Charlo.
“Mo is kind of sleek where Kirk was explosive,” Coccimiglio said. “I think they are different players.”
“I would have loved to play with Kirk,” said Charlo, who was also getting some interest from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Minnesota and UCLA. “He was a great player and he decided to make that jump. He was ready for the next level.”
And so is Charlo, although there is bound to be some hurdles to cross as he makes the transition between junior college and Division I basketball.
The biggest transition for Charlo is getting used to the quickness of the game and the strength of the players.
“The transition is going to be difficult,” Fox said. “It’s a tough transition from high school to junior college and junior college to four-year basketball.
“The speed of the game – it takes time to adjust. I think he’ll have some serious growing pains. It’s not easy to make the jump. Mo will be a good player.”
And, the sooner he can make that transition, the sooner he can help make the Wolf Pack be a better team.
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com or 881-1281.
The Charlo File
Last school: Diablo Valley College