By Alexa Ard
Arielle Wideman and Danika Sharp have put in their time at Nevada, but they also have a hand in the future of the team.
Four years ago, Wideman and Sharp came to a Nevada team that consisted of six seniors, including one of the Nevada greats Tahnee Robinson. They studied their upperclassmen’s game to improve as players. Wideman said Shavon Moore and Nicole Williams, two of the seniors, always looked out for her and helped her game.
On March 4, Wideman, Sharp, Amber Smith and Markie Wilder sported their white uniforms for the last time in a 75-70 triumph over Boise State. They were honored in front of a crowd of 1,325 people before the game started, followed by a highlight reel of their greatest moments broadcasted overhead on the scoreboard.
“At first, I was definitely a little too emotional,” Sharp said. “It was really sad to know it would be my last game on this court. Four years that flew by so fast. I think it was just emotional because the environment was so great, and the fans have always been so great. To know it was my last time playing here, it felt sort of surreal.”
However, the players have both left their mark in ways that go beyond the stat sheet. Wideman and Sharp have grown into leaders by serving as role models to their younger teammates, specifically Iman Lathan and Ashlee Jones, the only freshmen on the team.
Sharp sees similarities in the playing style between her and Jones. They’re both shooters. Sharp is the leading scorer on the team with 12.4 points a game, and she has scored over 1,000 points during her college career.
Jones said it has been good to have Sharp show her the ropes so she knows what to work on and contribute when it’s game time.
“I look up to Danika a lot because she’s a shooter, I’m a shooter,” Jones said. “And she helps me and guides me.”
Lathan actually knew of Wideman, one of her teammates and mentors, before joining the Wolf Pack because they had played in the same club basketball program in California.
Lathan never played point guard prior to her time at Nevada. Yet, with a mentor like Wideman, who’s averaging 10.6 points and 4.2 assists per game, Lathan has been able to get a better idea of what it takes to play that position.
Lathan might have to play point guard in the future, as she is the shortest player on the team. However, Albright sees sophomore Terilyn Moe taking over that role more, but added that Lathan could be the one, two or three position runs in three at-bats the first day, and two home runs the next day.
“I have never played the point guard position before, so I was absolutely lost,” Lathan said. “Ari is the first point guard that I’ve ever studied. So she helped me out in every aspect, even when she doesn’t know it.”
Albright said Jones put points on the board because of her shots outside the paint. However, Lathan would score by driving to the basket.
“I’ve always been the shortest, but mentally I feel like six-foot,” Lathan said. “That’s all that matters.”
Because the team will be losing two of its strongest guards, Nevada specifically recruited two guards to replace them.
“As a coach, you always look to see what position you’re trying to fill from who’s leaving, and you try to get them the year before the people leave. Danika and Ari were here when Johnna Ward and Tahnee and Dellena Criner and Amanda [were here], and they didn’t get a lot of playing time their freshman year, but they got mentored very well.”
Albright noted that Sharp and Jones are both similar in that they’re quiet by nature, but in different ways. She described Sharp as more silly and the type of person to make you laugh, whereas Jones is more steadfast.
She also described Lathan as fierier than Wideman.
Despite the differences, the two freshmen seem to mirror the two seniors in a way.
“I definitely think that we’re similar in regards to Iman and myself and Ashlee and Danika, and I see them playing significant minutes next year,” Wideman said. “I think they play well in the system, and I think they’ll play well the next three years that they play here.”
Wideman and Sharp’s chapters at Nevada are coming to a close, while those of Lathan and Jones are just beginning. Yet, even though the seniors will be moving on to their next step in life, they played a role in shaping the youngsters that are the future of Nevada.
Alexa Ard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.