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Nevada basketball 2019-20 season review: Guards

Lindsey Drew, Jalen Harris and Jazz Johnson led the way last year. Who will fill those roles next season?

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

In a year where the Wolf Pack lost all five starters, Nevada went 19-12 with a 12-6 conference record last year in the first year under head coach Steve Alford.

Each Thursday for the next few weeks, we will be reviewing an aspect from this 2019-20 season for the Nevada Wolf Pack.

Today, we’re looking to see how Nevada’s guard position played out.

Notable players:

Gabe Bansuelo:

Bansuelo, a local walk-on, appeared in just nine games in his freshman season with Nevada. He attempted just two field goal attempts (both threes) and did not score a single point in just 15 minutes of action. While at Bishop Manogue High School in Reno, Nev., Bansuelo averaged 16 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.9 steals in his senior season — helping the Miners to a 26-4 season. He shot 46 percent from the floor and 34 percent from 3-point range. As a senior, he earned first-team All-Sierra League Honors and third-team All-State honors.

Lindsey Drew:

Nevada v Boise State
Guard Lindsey Drew (14) drives the baseline against the Boise State Broncos.
Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

Drew, a fifth-year senior, had the best year of his career last season. Drew posted career-bests in scoring (11.4 ppg), rebounding (6.6 rpg), total field goals (131), 3-point field goals (45) and field goal percentage (.491). His 11.4 points ranked third on the team, while his 6.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.4 steals per game led the Pack — finishing in the Top-10 in the conference in each category. Drew ranked in the Top-10 in the conference in blocks (0.7 bpg), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6) in 30.9 minutes per game. Drew was named to the All-Mountain West honorable mention and was named to the All-Mountain West defensive team by the coaches for the second time in his career. His signature moment came in Nevada’s season opener and his 100th career game. Drew, after missing the previous 18 months due to recovering from surgeries on both of his hips and his achilles, tallied 30 points on five threes — both career highs. Drew canned 12 field goals on 19 attempts with six rebounds and eight assists in the 79-74 loss to Utah. The 6-foot-5 guard departs as one of the most accomplished players in program history. Drew is the only Pack player ever with at least 900 career points, 600 rebounds and 500 assists. His career 654 rebounds and 106 blocks are the 9th-most in school history, while his 168 steals are the 5th-most and his 508 assists are the 3rd-most. He had the third-most starts (124) and minutes played (3,935). Drew played in 93 wins and was a member of three NCAA Tournament teams and three Mountain West Championship teams. Check out what I wrote about Drew prior to senior night.

Jalen Harris:

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 18 Nevada at San Diego State
Jalen Harris (2) shoots a 3-pointer versus the San Diego State Aztecs.
Photo by Justin Fine/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Harris put together one of the best seasons in Wolf Pack history. Harris led Nevada and the conference — ranking No. 14 nationally — in scoring with 21.6 points per game. He was second on the team with 6.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. The 6-foot-5 guard was named to the All-Mountain West first team by the coaches and media and the coaches also selected him as their Mountain West Newcomer of the Year. Harris finished the season with 27 consecutive games with double-digit scoring (28 total). He had the most 20-point games (19) and 30-point games (6) in the conference. In a stretch from Jan. 29 to Feb. 8, Harris had four straight 30-point performances — the first Wolf Pack player in the NCAA era to record such a feat. Over that stretch, he scored 131 total points on 53.8 percent shooting (48.6 3-point percentage), including a career-high 38 points on 12-of-21 shooting versus Air Force. His 38 points was the most a Mountain West player scored all season. Harris dominated in conference play, leading the Mountain West at 25.3 points per game in 18 conference games. In conference play, he was 15th in rebounding (5.9 rpg), seventh in assists (3.8 apg), fourth in field goal percentage (.492), third in 3-point percentage (.414), second in 3-pointers made per game (2.9), 10th in steals (1.3 spg) and eighth in assists/turnover ratio (1.39). His 456 total points in conference play is the second-most in Mountain West history, trailing only Jimmer Fredette’s 502 points in 2010-11 — the year Fredette won the Naismith College Player of the Year Award. Harris’ 456 points and 25.3 points per game were also Wolf Pack records in Mountain West play. If Harris returns next season, he should be in the running for the conference’s player of the year award once again.

Jazz Johnson:

NCAA Basketball: Nevada at St. Mary’s
Nevada Wolf Pack guard Jazz Johnson (22) drives to the basket while being guarded by St. Mary’s Gaels guard Jordan Ford (3).
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson made the most of his increased role last season. Johnson, the Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year in 2018-19, started all 28 games. He played just 5.2 more minutes per game (28.6 to 33.8), but was looked at more as more of a primary scorer, with Harris, than a secondary one he was behind Jordan Caroline, Caleb Martin and Cody Martin in his first season with Nevada. Johnson was second on the team and eighth in the conference in scoring at 15.9 points per game. The 5-foot-10 sharpshooter led the conference in 3-pointer percentage (.417), 3-pointers made per game (3.1) and was second in total made 3-pointers (91). He was named to the All-Mountain West second team last season. Johnson tallied double figures in 26 games — two fewer than Harris — including a season-long stretch of 10 games to begin the season. He averaged 18.3 points per game on 48.1 percent shooting from 3-point range over that stretch. His best game of the year came in a 83-66 win over Boise State. Johnson tallied 38 points on eight threes with seven rebounds — all career highs. Check out what I wrote about Johnson prior to senior night.

Kane Milling:

NCAA Basketball: Nevada at Boise State
Nevada Wolf Pack guard Kane Milling (11) dribbling versus the Boise State Broncos.
Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Milling appeared in all 31 games as a freshman last season. He averaged 2.3 points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 11.8 minutes per game. The 6-foot-4 guard scored in 17 games, including a season-high 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 shooting from the free throw line. That contest was the only game he scored in double figures all season. Milling hit a 3-pointer in ten games, including a career-most of three versus Air Force — the only game on the season where he hit multiple threes. Milling will have an increased role In Nevada’s rotation next season as its backup point guard.

Nisre Zouzoua:

Nevada v UNLV
Nisre Zouzoua (5) drives against Marvin Coleman (31) of the UNLV Rebels.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After having a rough junior season in his first eligible year with Nevada, Zouzoua bounced back mightily, earning the Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year award last season. Appearing in 31 games (4 starts), Zouzoua was fourth on the team in scoring at 9.8 points per game, averaging 2.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.5 steals in 24.5 minutes per game. He shot 41.8 percent from the floor and 41.6 percent from beyond the arc. In the four starts, Zouzoua averaged eight points, two rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.5 steals in 28.5 minutes per contest. Zouzoua had 16 games with double figure scoring, including a 20-point performance on 6-of-7 shooting from 3-point range in a 96-74 win over New Mexico. His 20 points and six threes were Nevada career highs. Zouzoua canned a 3-pointer in 24 games and three-plus threes in nine games. Check out what I wrote about Zouzoua prior to senior night.

Who sat out that can impact next year’s team?

Desmond Cambridge:

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 05 Brown at Butler
Desmond Cambridge (24) looks to pass while Butler Bulldogs guard Henry Baddley (20) is defending.
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Depending on if Harris stays for his senior season, Cambridge could sneakily solidify himself as Nevada’s best player heading into next season. Cambridge sat out last season due to NCAA’s transfer rules, but will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning next season. Prior to Nevada, Cambridge played his first two seasons at Brown University. In 57 combined games, he averaged 16.5 points, 4,2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, one steal and 1.4 blocks per game on 38.6 percent shooting from the floor and 32.6 percent from beyond the arc. Cambridge tallied 17 games with 20-plus points, 12 games with 25-plus points and five games with 30-plus points in his collegiate — yes, he can definitely score. His career-high stands at 33 points on 7-of-12 games from beyond the arc in a 90-69 win over Marist in his freshman season. Speaking of his freshman season, Cambridge made an immediate impact as soon as he stepped on Brown’s campus. As a freshman, he won the Ivy League’s Rookie of the Year award and was named to the second-team All-Ivy League team. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 17.3 points per game, scoring in double figures in 25-of-27 games played. He set a school record with 468 total points on 40.1 percent shooting and 33.5 percent from deep. In his sophomore season, Cambridge was unable to build off his previous mark, but still made a prominent. He led Brown in scoring for the second consecutive season after averaging 15.7 points per contest on 37.2 percent shooting. His 15.7 points per game were fourth-most in the conference. Cambridge averaged 3.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.7 blocks per game. The athletic guard defend 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. Cambridge is a two-way scorer that will have an immediate impact next fall.

Khristion Courseault:

Courseault sat out last season as a walk-on and used his redshirt season to recover from a right ACL tear he suffered in his lone season with Pasadena City College. Limited to just 22 games as a freshman at PCC, he averaged 11 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He shot 39.2 percent from the floor and 37.1 percent from deep. This current offseason will be Courseault’s first full offseason of sole focus on basketball activity in two years after tearing his other ACL in his senior year at Loyola High School in Los Angeles, Calif. As a senior, Courseault averaged 15 points, four rebounds and four assists per game in just 18 games. His dynamic play led to being named to both the 1A All-CIF first team and the All-Mission League first team. Courseault is a dynamic scoring combo guard that could potentially crack the rotation next season.

What’s next?

The Wolf Pack will graduate three (Drew, Johnson and Zouzoua) of their best four guards heading into next season. The Wolf Pack had one of the best starting guard trios in the conference last year. He is my list of them:

  • Nevada: Drew - Johnson - Harris
  • San Diego State: Malachi Flynn - Jordan Schakel - KJ Feagin
  • Utah State: Brock Miller - Diogo Brito - Sam Merrill
  • Boise State: Alex Hobbs - Justinian Jessup - Derrick Alston (should I even consider Alston a guard though?)
  • UNLV: Bryce Hamilton (if you want to consider him a starter. I do.) - Amauri Hardy - Elijah Mitrou-Long
  • Colorado State: Isaiah Stevens - David Roddy - Kendle Moore
  • New Mexico: JaQuan Lyle - Vance Jackson - Makuach Maluach (You could easily add Zane Martin somewhere in there, too).
  • Fresno State: New Williams - Jarred Hyder - Noah Blackwell
  • Air Force: A.J. Walker - Caleb Morris - Sid Tomes
  • Wyoming: Hunter Maldonado - Jake Hendricks - Kwane Marble II (I have the same problem here I had with Hamilton. I think Marble II can be considered a starter, though.)
  • San Jose State: Seneca Knight - Richard Washington - Brae Ivey

There were a lot of good trios. San Diego State’s — led by the conference’s player of the year Malachi Flynn (17.6 ppg) — helped propel them to a near perfect season. Utah State’s trio was very good. UNLV’s trio — led by Bryce Hamilton (16.0 ppg) — featured scorers that averaged at least 12 points per game. Colorado State’s guard trio was sparked by the conference’s best freshman duo in Stevens and Roddy.

However, with that being said, I would take Nevada’s up against anyone’s in that list. Depending on how much you weigh certain accolades, the Wolf Pack guard trio was the only one in the conference where each player was recognized on either of the All-Conference first, second, third or honorable mention teams.

Harris declared for the draft without hiring an agent over the weekend, so he could potentially return to the Wolf Pack. Players in the past — such as Nick Fazekas, Cameron Oliver, Jordan Caroline, Caleb and Cody Martin — have all declared returned to school. ESPN awarded Harris as the 24th-best player for the 2020-21 season, assuming he returns.

If he does return, that gives Nevada a very formidable 1-2 two-way punch with Harris and Cambridge. The Wolf Pack also welcome three guard recruits: Je’Lani Clark, Daniel Foster and Alem Huseinovic. Clark was recently named as the San Fransisco Player of the Year from the San Francisco Chronicle; the Bay Area carries loads of talent, so that’s a respectable feat. Huseinovic is a knockdown shooter and Foster is a good distributor who could serve as a backup point guard on the roster.

Last year, it was obvious the guard position was Nevada’s strongest group. There is a little uncertainty if that is the case for this upcoming season — a lot weighs on Harris’ decision. I still think it will be regardless, but the forward group is improving from a year ago while the Pack lost a majority of their best guard pieces.