By Jack Rieger
Nevada basketball is in the process of transitioning from a Mountain West Conference bottom dweller to a consistent competitor.
That process began on March 25, over six months ago, when Nevada hired former NBA head coach Eric Musselman to be its new leader. Musselman is somewhat of a basketball vagabond, having coached 15 different organizations in his 26-year career. His tenure includes stints in college basketball, the Continental Basketball Association, the United States Basketball League, the NBA’s developmental league and the NBA.
College basketball coaches have two primary jobs. The first is to manage and develop the team they have on the floor. The second is recruiting: convincing young, talented players across the country to come and play for them. Coach Musselman has proven to be one hell of a recruiter thus far.
Since signing his coaching contract in March, Musselman has recruited four highly touted high school players to verbally commit to play at Nevada in the future, and he has also pulled from the junior college ranks. He’s even convinced seven players to transfer from other schools. Here is a scouting breakdown of some of the noteworthy recruits that Musselman has wooed to Nevada.
PF Cameron Oliver – 6 feet 8 inches/225 pounds – Oregon State: Oliver decided to transfer schools when Oregon State coach Craig Robinson was fired in 2014. Oliver is an athletic, vertical player who finishes around the rim very well. He has good ball-handling skills for his size and runs the floor, which will complement Musselman’s fast-paced offense. He is also an above-average defender who likes to meet his man at the rim. His jump shot is decent but will need improvement in order to become a consistent weapon. Oliver will be eligible to play in 2015-2016.
PF Arlando Cook – 6 feet 8 inches/215 pounds – St. Louis: A four-star prospect, Cook is a true big man that spends most of his time in the paint overpowering defenders with his post moves and blocking shots. Cook was one of the best junior college players in the country last year, averaging almost a double-double and shooting at 57 percent. He will not be eligible to play for Nevada until next season.
HIGH SCHOOL RECRUITS
PG Devearl Ramsey – 5 feet 11 inches/175 pounds – Chatsworth, California: For what Ramsey lacks in height, he makes up for in tenacity. The four-star senior point guard has ridiculous quickness to go along with a consistent jump shot. He is a better passer than Lindsey Drew, but lacks Drew’s natural ability to finish at the rim. Ramsey’s combination of ball handling and vision makes him a perfect guard for Musselman’s fast-paced offense.
PF Kenneth Wooten – 6 feet 8 inches/205 pounds – Manteca, California: Wooten is the most talented Nevada recruit in recent memory. He is considered one of the best shot-blockers in the nation because of his quick hands and 7-foot wingspan. His athleticism and raw ability jump off the screen, as Wooten should be a cornerstone for Nevada basketball starting next season.
PG Lindsey Drew – 6 feet 3 inches/175 pounds – Los Angeles: The one-time Arizona State commit, Drew is a smooth scoring point guard with the ability to shoot threes effectively, as well as use his height at the rim. Drew was one of the best scoring guards in California, mainly because of his crossover and hesitation move. He likes to utilize the floater in the lane and has an underrated post-up game. Drew is much more of a scoring guard than a passing guard, which should work well in Nevada’s guard-friendly offense.
SF Trevon Abdullah – 6 feet 6 inches/210 pounds – Las Vegas: Abdullah’s intelligence and selflessness is evident in his game tape, as is his ability to slash and score from the wing. Abdullah plays like former Duke player Justice Winslow with regard to Winslow’s balance and physicality. Abdullah, only a junior in high school, will continue to improve his shooting and defense before entering college.
Jack Rieger can be reached at jrieger@ sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @JackRieger