Nevada Wolf Pack’s Elijah Foster given another chance
RENO — Elijah Foster wore a big smile Wednesday afternoon at the official University of Nevada men’s basketball Media Day, and with good reason.
Foster was given a second chance by the Nevada basketball program and the university after being arrested last November for first-degree domestic battery and contempt of court.
Foster, who averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds through Nevada’s first seven games, was suspended for the rest of the season. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound Foster was shooting 61 percent from the field, tops on the team.
The domestic battery charge was eventually dropped with cause. The contempt of court stemmed from a speeding ticket he received in Esmeralda County in Southern Nevada.
Foster kept his nose clean, going to therapy and keeping up with his studies, and coach Eric Musselman reinstated him to the program for his senior season.
Foster played just six minutes in Sunday’s exhibition win against Grand Canyon. He missed his only shot attempt and picked up two fouls. It didn’t matter, just being out there meant a lot.
“It was unreal,” Foster said. “I feel blessed to get a second chance, and I’m ready to go. I’m looking forward to the season starting and giving it my all. I feel I’m wiser and smarter. I’m just happy that coach Muss had faith in me and I had a great support staff to help me.
“Being away from the game makes you love it even more; appreciate it. I thought I would get to come back, but I wasn’t always sure.”
Foster’s focus is simple now — get back to where he was last year at the start of the season.
The first seven games couldn’t have gone any better. He had three double-doubles, two coming against Iona (21-10 and 13-10). He also had an 18-point, 10-rebound effort against Loyola in last season’s home opener.
His toughness, grit, and willingness to do the dirty work like rebound and set screens made him a fan favorite. He wore a hard hat to every game and played with an edge.
Foster can also shoot it from intermediate range. Don’t expect to see him put up many 3-pointers, but from 12 to 15-feet he’s solid.
“Last year he was great for us when he played,” Musselman said. “He has been a great teammate. He is working hard. He does a lot of the little things.”
Where Foster fits into the rotation remains to be seen. Grad transfer Darien Williams played 10 minutes and scored four points. The rest of the time Nevada went with a small lineup, and that caused Grand Canyon some problems.
“Whether I start or come off the bench it doesn’t matter,” Foster said. “I’ll leave that up to coach Muss. I trust him. I’ll do whatever I can to help the team. I just want to pick up where I left off.”
The players were dressed in the various uniforms they will wear this season … The only walk-on suiting up this year is Charlie Tooley … Nevada’s second exhibition game is Sunday at 3 p.m. against Division II Stanislaus State. Musselman said he expects to see a lot of zone defense … The nice thing about Nevada’s preseason schedule is the longest trips are to Hawaii (Nov. 24) and Texas Tech (Dec. 5). The rest of the games are in California and Las Vegas (Continental Tire Classic).