Elijah Brown Returning To New Mexico
New Mexico head coach Craig Neal may have finally gotten some good news over the weekend, when the Lobos' reigning leading scorer in Elijah Brown announced that he was withdrawing from the NBA Draft and returning to school for his junior season. The prolific guard averaged a team high 21.7 points per game last season for a Lobos team that limped to a 17-15 finish.
Brown's return to Albuquerque is crucial for a New Mexico program still piecing together a roster after fellow guard Cullen Neal decided to leave the school in mid-March. Cullen Neal, the son of head coach Craig Neal, averaged 12.3 points and 3.7 assists per game last season and was expected to form a "big three" nucleus along with Brown and forward Tim Williams. Now, it looks like it will be a two-man show going forward.
While Brown is often criticized on the court for being a high-volume shooter that lacks consistency, the fact of the matter is that when the Santa Ana native is on, he's as explosive as they come. Brown hit the thirty-point plateau in six games during the 2015-2016 season, highlighted by a 41 point outing on February 27th against Fresno State. The 6' 4" guard also finished second on the team in assists and third in rebounding a season ago.
It's time to focus on winning a national championship for the Q...Thankful for the process but it's time to get to work!!! #LOBONATION— elijah brown (@_eb4_) May 21, 2016
Former UNLV Commit Carlos Johnson Picks Washington
If you by chance read an article pertaining to the state of the UNLV roster by Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Journal-Review in the past few days, you'd know that Rebels' head coach Marvin Menzies is pretty comfortable with the way his program is shaping up. However, that doesn't mean he wouldn't have liked to add the services of a talented recruit like Carlos Johnson if he had the opportunity. While that avenue was once open when Johnson first committed to UNLV in September, it looks now like Johnson's days of being a Rebel are completely gone.
Per a post on his Twitter account, the growing medium of choice for official college commitments, three-star 2016 recruit Carlos Johnson has committed to head coach Lorenzo Romar and the University of Washington. Johnson chose the Huskies after taking visits to the campuses of both Boise State and Oregon State. UNLV was also rumored to be a potential destination for Johnson's services until the end but the coaching overhaul and program turmoil seemed to push the Findlay Prep star to pursue other options.
Johnson's loss is no longer the complete washout that it would've been if Menzies' roster still looked like it did when he first arrived but surely, it takes one of the last remaining "original" UNLV commits off the board. The Rebels are reportedly out of the mix for fellow Findlay Prep standout Justin Jackson as well, as Maryland, Oregon and UCONN have begun to make strong pushes for the 6' 7" wing player. However, Menzies thinks he has enough talent to build around with a recent rash of commitments over the past month from Kris Clyburn (Ranger College), Ben Coupet (Simeon Academy), Zion Morgan (Kenwood Academy), Jordan Johnson (UW-Milwaukee) and Djordjije Slijivancanin (IMG Academy).
CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein Likes Nevada's Chances In Mountain West
As the size of Nevada's bandwagon continues to grow, it's probably safe to add CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein to the list of analysts and writers who are beginning to recognize the potential of the Wolfpack program as they enter the second year of the Eric Musselman era. In his fairly regular "Observations" articles posted on CBSSports.com, Rothstein addressed Nevada's ability to challenge the San Diego State stronghold atop the Mountain West with an impressive roster returning for the 2016-2017 season.
As Rothstein states, with four potential returning starters in Cameron Oliver, D.J. Fenner, Lindsey Drew and Elijah Foster and two exciting transfers in Jordan Caroline (Southern Illinois) and Marcus Marshall (Missouri State), Nevada has the roster to have a more balanced and deeper team that they did this past season, which culminated with a CBI Championship. Now, they key for the Wolfpack will be taking the leap from a dark-horse program to legitimate contenders.
The first step in that equation will likely come in the non-conference portion of their schedule where Nevada has a seemingly manageable slate, with almost all of their non-league match-ups set. The Wolfpack will get some challenges such as hosting Oregon State and traveling to Santa Clara, who will be under new head coach Herb Sendek, but the rest of the road could be smooth enough. Showdowns with three teams coming off losing campaigns in Pacific, UC-Davis and Bradley should only help build the confidence of this team heading into a critical transition season.