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Nevada Basketball 2020-21 Season Preview

San Jose State v Nevada Photo by Jonathan Devich/Getty Images

With graduating Caleb and Cody Martin (currently on the Charlotte Hornets roster), Jordan Caroline and the sudden departure of head coach Eric Musselman, the Wolf Pack were forced to re-vamp its roster and coaching staff on the fly under new head coach Steve Alford entering the 2019-20 season.

Despite the drastic turnaround, the Nevada men’s basketball team finished 19-12, including 12-6 in Mountain West play. They were eliminated in the first round of the Mountain West Tournament by the Wyoming Cowboys 74-71.

Nevada loses its top four scorers and five of its top six — including leading scorer Jalen Harris (21.7 ppg), who finished second in the running for the Mountain West Player of the Year voting. From an overall roster construction standpoint, its turnaround is just as drastic as it was heading into 2019-20.

Production Nevada has lost

Entering the.... Points FG 3PFG Offensive rebounding Total rebounding Steals Blocks
Entering the.... Points FG 3PFG Offensive rebounding Total rebounding Steals Blocks
2019-20 season 85.7 percent (2,334-of-2,723 PTS) 86.6 percent (800-of-924 FG's) 75.1 percent (223-of-297 3PM's) 83.1 percent (271-of-325 ORB's) 86.3 percent (1100-of-1274 REBS) 90.5 percent (191-of-211 STLS 97 percent (130-of-134 BLKS)
2020-21 season 79.9 percent (1,911-of- 2,391 PTS) 83.1 percent (666-of-801 FG's) 82.5 percent (255 of 309 3PM's) 46.3 percent (126-of-272 ORB's) 59 percent (701-of-1,188 REBS) 78 percent (124-of-159 STLS) 53.2 percent (58-of-109 BLKS)

In these unforeseen times, it is hard what to project what this Wolf Pack bring. They play a total of 27 games — four fewer than it resulted as last year. But they play 20 Mountain West games instead of the usual 18. Let’s take a look at Nevada’s 2020-21 schedule.


Schedule:

Nevada men’s basketball 2020-21 schedule

Day Date Opponent Time (PST) TV
Day Date Opponent Time (PST) TV
Wed-Sat. Nov. 25-28 Golden Window Classic (Lincoln, Neb.) TBD TBD
Wednesday Nov. 25 vs. North Dakota State 12:00 p.m. None
Thursday Nov. 26 Nebraska 11:00 a.m. Big Ten Network
Monday Nov. 30 vs. Pacific TBD TBD
Wednesday Dec. 2 vs. San Francisco TBD TBD
Sunday Dec. 6 at San Francisco TBD TBD
Friday Dec. 11 at Grand Canyon TBD TBD
Monday Dec. 14 at San Diego TBD TBD
Friday Dec. 18 vs. Air Force TBD TBD
Sunday Dec. 20 vs. Air Force TBD TBD
Thursday Dec. 31 at New Mexico TBD TBD
Saturday Jan. 2 at New Mexico TBD TBD
Thursday Jan. 7 at San Diego State TBD TBD
Saturday Jan. 9 at San Diego State TBD TBD
Thursday Jan. 14 vs. Fresno State TBD TBD
Saturday Jan. 16 vs. Fresno State TBD TBD
Friday Jan. 22 at Wyoming TBD TBD
Sunday Jan. 24 at Wyoming TBD TBD
Sunday Jan. 31 vs. UNLV TBD TBD
Tuesday Feb. 2 vs. UNLV TBD TBD
Friday Feb. 5 vs. Boise State TBD TBD
Sunday Feb. 7 vs. Boise State TBD TBD
Saturday Feb. 13 at San Jose State TBD TBD
Monday Feb. 15 at San Jose State TBD TBD
Friday Feb. 19 vs. Colorado State TBD TBD
Sunday Feb. 21 vs. Colorado State TBD TBD
Thursday Feb. 25 at Utah State TBD TBD
Saturday Feb. 27 at Utah State TBD TBD

Nevada will play seven non-conference games and 20 Mountain West conference games.

The Wolf Pack begin the season in Lincoln, Neb., for the Golden Window Classic against North Dakota State. NDSU is coming off a 25-8 season where it went 13-3 in the Summit Conference. The Bison would’ve made their second consecutive NCAA Tournament if COVID-19 did not halt it after a second consecutive Summit Tournament victory.

When the Mountain West in-conference schedule begins, each team will play ten total opponents twice for five home and road series. Each series will involve two games in that same venue before moving to the next opponent.

Nevada’s Home MWC Opponents:

  • Air Force
  • Fresno State
  • UNLV
  • Boise State
  • Colorado State

Road MWC Opponents:

  • New Mexico
  • San Diego State
  • San Jose State
  • Wyoming
  • Utah State

Nevada will get intrastate rival UNLV at home — where the Pack has won five of their last seven meeting versus the Rebels. They also host Boise State led by preseason All-Mountain West Player of the Year honoree Derrick Alston Jr. (17.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg). However, Nevada must travel to conference-favorite San Diego State and Utah State — two tough foes. Alford also visits University Arena — formally known as “The Pit” — for the second time since departing the Lobos, where he was the head coach for six seasons (2007-13).

Now let’s look at the roster, which returns one starter from last year’s team.


The Wolf Pack possess an inexperienced roster — including just two scholarship upperclassman. Let’s take a look at it.

Guards:

Returners:

Kane Milling (6’4”, 180 lbs — Sophomore)

Nevada v New Mexico Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

Though none of the starting guards (Jalen Harris, Jazz Johnson and Lindsey Drew) return from last year’s team, Milling could likely see extensive playing time in the starting role this year. If he were to come off the bench, Milling, entering his sophomore season, likely serves as the lead ball-handler that could provide solid defense with a scoring punch off the bench. The 6-foot-4 guard appeared in all 34 games last year. He averaged 2.3 points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.8 assists. He was an inefficient scorer, shooting 32.4 percent from the floor 26.7 from 3-point range and 55 percent from the free throw line.

Gabe Bansuelo (6’1”, 165 lbs — Sophomore)

Bansuelo appeared in just nine games and played a total of 15 minutes. The Reno, Nev., native, who walked-on, attempted just two shots — both of them 3-point attempts. He is expected to not crack the rotation as a sophomore this year.

Transfers who weren’t eligible last year:

Desmond Cambridge (6’4”, 180 lbs. — Junior)

Brown v Butler Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

There is nobody that has as much hype surrounding him on this team than Cambridge — who is a candidate for Mountain West Newcomer of the Year. Cambridge has two years of eligibility left. He has the threat to become one of the most lethal scorers in the conference. In 57 career games at Brown, Cambridge totaled 16.5 points, 4,2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, one steal and 1.4 blocks per game. He was inefficient from the floor, shooting 38.6 percent from the floor and 32.6 percent from beyond the arc. He shot 77.0 percent from the stripe, so his shot projects to be more efficient in the future. As a freshman, he averaged 17.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He won the Ivy League’s Rookie of the Year award and was named to the second-team All-Ivy League team. Cambridge led Brown in scoring for the second consecutive season after averaging 15.7 points per game — the fourth-best in the conference — on 37.2 percent shooting and 31.8 percent from deep. The athletic guard defends the rim at a high level for a guard, leading all Ivy League players with 52 total blocks in 2018-19 and recording the fifth-most (27) a year prior. He was 10th in total steals as a freshman (29) and 13th as a sophomore (30) — tallying at least one per game in each season.

Khristion Courseault (6’2”, 180 lbs. — Sophomore)

Courseault used his redshirt season last year after recovering from a right ACL tear. As a freshman at Pasadena City College, he averaged 11 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, shooting 39.2 percent from the floor and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc. With also tearing his other ACL in his senior season of high school, this will be his first full offseason without having to recover from injury. That’s worrisome, though playing quality level basketball the following season after tearing an ACL isn’t something he hasn’t done before. Courseault could potentially slot himself into the rotation as a scoring combo guard that can space the floor in 2020-21.

Transfers who are immediately eligible:

Grant Sherfield (6’2”, 189 lbs. — Sophomore)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 01 Wichita State at SMU Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sherfield transferred from Wichita State in the spring. He appeared in 30 games and started in 12. Sherfield averaged 8.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists last year. The combo guard had 10 double-digit scoring outputs, including a career-high 15 points versus Abilene Christian. At 6-foot-2, there is a possibility that he could insert himself into either of the guard spots in the starting lineup. Though, like Milling, he didn’t have a big sample size, he will need to be more efficient from the floor. Sherfield shot 35.4 percent, including 30.4 percent from beyond the arc and 74.4 percent from the free throw line. In 17 American Athletic Conference games, he averaged 6.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per contest.

Freshmen:

Tre Coleman (6’7”, 185 lbs.)

Coleman is the top recruit in Nevada’s 2020 class and the seventh-highest player in school history according to 247sports’ all-time rating tracker. He is rated as a three-star recruit per 247Sports, rivals.com and espn.com. Here is what Alford said about Coleman last November.

“Tre is a big athletic wing who can defend all over the court ... He gives us a ton of versatility. A high level athlete who will bring energy on both sides of the ball.”

Coleman could serve as a viable wing option off the bench for the Pack. It is unclear how many minutes he will get, but expect for him to slot himself into the rotation. He joined Nevada over offers from Nebraska, Murray State, Monmouth, Mercer and Ball State, among others. He averaged 15.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.3 blocks per game, shooting 65 percent from the floor and 43 percent from deep as a senior at Jeffersonville High School in Jeffersonville, Ind.

Alem Huseinovic (6’4”, 190 lbs)

Huseinovic, Alford’s last 2020 recruit (that was not a transfer), averaged 14.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists as a senior at Phoenix Prep, where he teamed up with Pack commit DeAndre Henry (more on him later). Here is what Alford said about Huseinovic last November.

“Alem is a tough, heady shooting guard. He really knows how to create and make shots. A fierce competitor who really knows how to play.”

Huseinovic is originally from Bosnia & Herzegovina. Before playing with Henry at Phoenix prep, he played in Chaparral High School in Phoenix — averaging 14.2 points and 2.9 rebounds on 39 percent shooting from 3-point range. Look for Alford to dabble Huseinovic’s minutes into situations where certain lineups need the necessary shooting or floor spacing to perform better as a unit.

Daniel Foster (6’6”, 185 lbs.)

Foster, from Australia, represented Victoria in the Australian U20 National Tournament and Australia in the FIBA 3x3 U18 Asia Cup. In the 3x3 tournament, he earned all-tournament honors and averaged six points across five games. His 30 points were the second-most in the tournament. In the U20 tournament, he averaged 4.9 assists and 3.6 steals — earned all-state honors.

“Daniel is a versatile guard who can play a variety of positions,” Alford said. “A tough minded competitor who knows how to play the game. We’ve had tremendous success with Australian born players.”

Forwards:

Returners:

Zane Meeks (6’9”, 215 lbs. — Sophomore)

NCAA Basketball: Nevada at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Meeks is Nevada’s top returning scorer from last year’s team, averaging 6.4 points per contest. Listed at 6-foot-10, Meeks was primarily a stretch-5, shooting 36.4 percent from 3-point range on 3.5 3-point attempts per game. He mustered up eight games with multiple 3-pointers and knocked down a career-best four threes on three separate occasions. His best game came in a 16-point effort on 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc versus Santa Clara. He reached double-digit scoring eight times. Meeks will likely be inserted for a similar — a floor spacer who specializes off the catch-and-shoot. With four of Nevada’s top five scorers departed, Meeks likely experiences more opportunities to let the rock fly and could potentially see his scoring output in the double-digit category.

Robby Robinson (6’8”, 225 lbs. — Junior)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 18 Nevada at San Diego State Photo by Justin Fine/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s difficult to determine where Robinson fits in heading into 2020-21. He is the Wolf Pack’s only returning starter from last year’s team — starting in all 31 contests. Robinson primarily started at the 4 along with three guards and Johncarlos Reyes, a 6-foot-10 forward who held down the fort for 19.5 minutes per night. Robinson adds palatable defense with good rebounding, but didn’t showcase too much else. In his first season with Nevada, the former San Diego City College transfer was third on the team in rebounding (5.1 rpg) and averaged just 2.7 points per game. He is not a stat sheet stuffer, but does the necessary dirty work that Nevada could use. He has 18 games with five-plus rebounds and seven with seven-plus. He did not look to score when he was on the floor — never hoisting up more than five field goal attempts — and his lone double-digit scoring game came on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting versus Santa Clara.

K.J. Hymes (6’10”, 210 lbs. — Sophomore)

Nevada v UNLV Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Though he didn’t get much playing time, Hymes was one of the best big men Nevada had last year. The then-freshman averaged 4.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game; that translates to 11.9 points, 9.0 rebounds per 40 minutes. What played Hymes off the floor was his lack of discipline defensively. Hymes totaled the fourth-most blocks in the Mountain West with 31, but picked the second-most fouls with (101) — he averaged 9.4 fouls per 40 minutes. He fouled out four times and picked up four-plus 15 times. If Hymes wants consistent minutes, he will need to limit the foul trouble and show better discipline — which comes with experience.

Zachary Williams (6’7”, 205 lbs. — Senior)

WIlliams is the only senior on Nevada’s roster, though he is a walk-on. He played in just seven games last year and played in just 14 total minutes. In his sophomore season at South Mountain Community College, Williams averaged 9.9 points and four rebounds on 45.6 percent shooting and 40.2 percent from 3-point range. I cannot foresee him in the rotation this season.

Transfers who were not eligible last year:

Warren Washington (7’0”, 215 lbs. — Sophomore)

NCAA Basketball: Oregon State at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

This is Washington’s first active season with the Wolf Pack. He isn’t unfamiliar with the program — Nevada was first to offer him a scholarship out of high school as a freshman when Musselman was the head coach. He committed to Oregon State before his Reno visit, but was lured back with Alford at the helm. He is currently the tallest player on the Wolf Pack roster, listed at 7-foot. Washington previously played one season with the Beavers. Though he wasn’t able to showcase it — averaging 1.3 points and 1.4 rebounds in 7.8 minutes per game in his lone season — Washington possesses good length with athleticism. He could potentially reach 9.0-10-plus rebounds per game with the Wolf Pack; his ceiling is that high.

Freshmen:

DeAndre Henry (6’7”, 225 lbs.)

As I mentioned previously, Henry teamed-up with Huseinovic at Phoenix Prep as a senior, helping lead them to a 35-15 record. Henry earned first team All-Grind Session honors, averaging 17.4 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He shot 57 percent overall and 84 percent from the free-throw line.

“Dre has a tremendous ceiling as a basketball player,” Alford said last November. “He is a strong and athletic player who loves to compete at both ends of the floor. He will improve daily due to how hard he works.”

In this day-and-age, high-motor players typically see their way onto the floor. Coaches love workhorses, and how could you not? Though he might not get much playing time to start, Henry could see himself rise in the rotation if he can further work at his game.


My Projected Starting 5:

  • Kane Milling
  • Desmond Cambridge
  • Grant Sherfield
  • Zane Meeks
  • Warren Washington

Alford’s starting 5s could be an assortment of lineups at the beginning of the season. The 1-and-2 spots could be interchange, as would the 4-and-5 positions (as they should be).

This lineup, to me, feels the most projectable (although it doesn’t include Robinson who started every game last year). This lineup involved at least three capable shooters (Cambridge, Sherfield, Meeks), a lead playmaker (Milling) and an athletic post presence that can rebound and rim protect (Washington). Inserting Robinson, is this particular group, sacrifices a shooter (unless it’s Milling or Washington).

Alford could opt to utilize either Sherfield off the bench, for Robinson, to deliver an offensive punch for the second unit. That lineup could look like: Milling, Cambridge, Robinson, Meeks and Washington. Sherfield would be slotted in as the 6th or 7th man and operate as the lead ball hander and shot creator for the bench units.

I’ll end my lineup rambling here before I get too strategical; in summary, there are several combinations that Alford could use. Last year, Nevada already had three starters (Johnson, Drew, Harris) — maybe four if you include Reyes — with one question. Aside from Cambridge (and maybe Washington/Meeks), there are question marks on who will start all across the lineups. Alford will experiment throughout the season, but don’t anticipate one set lineup at the initial start of the season.


Overall, with the lack of experience of this roster, there’s going to be some growing pains — especially in this crazy climate.

Nevada was projected to finish 6th among 11 total teams in the conference heading into this season. That ranking seems fair, although it’s difficult to gauge based upon how young this roster is. This is a re-tooling season for the Wolf Pack, who hasn’t finished outside of the Top-4 in the conference since 2014-15.