Musselman raises MWC trophy

File photo/Nevada Sagebrush
Nevada basketball head coach Eric Musselman raises the 2018 Mountain West Championship trophy. The Wolf Pack look to defend their title.

With college basketball season is less than four months away, schools across the nation are trying to fine tune their teams for a the upcoming season. Nevada was just three games away from a national championship last season, and has spent the summer trying to return to the tournament for a chance at redemption. For those who have not been keeping up the with Wolf Pack basketball in the during the summer, many significant events have taken place.

May

MarTwins, Caroline return to Nevada

Nevada basketball fans can rejoice as both Caleb and Cody Martin announced that they are withdrawing their names from the NBA Draft and will return to school for their final year of eligibility. Caleb is the reigning Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference along with being named first-team All-Mountain West, while brother Cody is the conference’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year and was second-team All-Mountain West.

The announcement came via Eric Musselman who facetimed Caleb in front of Wolf Pack fans at the Silver Legacy Casino, just 30 minutes before the 9 p.m. deadline for players to withdraw from draft consideration. In an interview the Reno Gazette Journal’s Chris Murray, Caleb Martin said that it he made his decision to stay just around an hour and a half before the announcement.

Jordan Caroline announced he was returning for his senior season four days before the Martins, meaning Nevada will retain all three players who tested the draft waters. Caroline’s return was embraced by Wolf Pack Nation, as Twitter was filled with tweets with the hashtag #oursweetcaroline24. A fan favorite, Caroline was first-team All-Mountain West alongside Caleb Martin.

The twin’s return has sparked a social media campaign — #MarTwinning — adding to the campaigns held for Caroline and the signing of Jordan Brown earlier in the month.  The return of arguably the Wolf Pack’s best three players — along with the addition of Brown — makes Nevada a legitimate national title contender. Many way-to-early preseason polls have the Wolf Pack as a top-10 team in the nation.

Athletics opts for Adidas

The Twins’ return capped off an exciting day for Wolf Pack athletics. Just a few hours before the declaration of the return, Nevada announced that Adidas will become the school’s official athletic sponsor. The six-year deal lasts throughout the 2024-25 season as Adidas will provide apparel, gear and accessories for all 16 of Nevada’s athletic programs.

June

Amin decommits, Hall transfers

With Jordan Caroline and both Martin twins returning, Nevada’s roster had two more scholarship players than the maximum 13 allotted by the NCAA. Although Musselman had buckets of time to figure out his roster, everything seemed to work itself out relatively quickly.

The day after the twins announced their return, Ehab Amin decommitted from Nevada and decided toward the end of June to finish his collegiate career at the University of Oregon. Amin, who committed less than a month before, was a graduate transfer eligible to play immediately.  Even with Amin gone, there was still one roster move needed to get Nevada to the NCAA limit of 13 scholarship players. Amin’s move was more or less expected, but the final roster move led to plenty of speculation from Wolf Pack fans about who was leaving the team.

The last move was a surprise as Josh Hall — Nevada’s NCAA tournament hero — announced he was transferring to Missouri State University. Hall averaged 7 points and 4 rebounds for the Pack last season. Hall, one of three transfers headed to MSU, will sit out the 2018-19 season and will have two years of eligibility remaining. Hall had struggles with grades and was not listed on Nevada’s summer pratice roster.

Family ties play key role in coaching changes

Days after Hall’s transfer, associate head coach Johnny Jones left Nevada to become the head coach at Texas Southern. Before coming to Nevada, Jones was a well tenured head coach at North Texas, Memphis and most recently LSU, where he met Musselman. Jones’ son, John, will follow his father to Texas Southern as a walk-on. Jones’ appeared in just seven games for the Pack last season.

Continuing with the family connections trend, Michael Musselman joined the Nevada coaching staff as a graduate assistant. Musselman spent four seasons as a student manager for the University of San Diego basketball squad. Michael Musselman — son of head coach Eric Musselman — is the third Musselman to join the coaching ranks, the first being his grandfather Bill Musselman.

Meet the walk ons

The busy month of June for Nevada basketball also included the addition of three walk-ons to the roster. Jalen Townsell — a Reno local who played his high school ball at Spanish Springs — is a 6’7” winger who averaged 21.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game shootings 54 percent from the field leading his team to a regional title. Josiah Wood, another Reno local, also joined the team this offseason. Wood, Galena High alum and son of former Wolf Pack player David Wood, transferred from Alaska Anchorage and will have to sit out the upcoming season with one year remaining of eligibility. The last of the walk-ons is Isaiah Rhymes. Rhymes hails from Phoenix and was Union Region’s Co-Player of the Year during his senior season.

The *most likely* final version of the Wolf Pack roster

Caleb Martin (G/F)

Cody Martin (G/F)

Jordan Caroline (F)

Jordan Brown (F)

Trey Porter (C)

The likely starting five, unless Musselman decides to occasionally start Lindsey Drew over Trey Porter. Drew’s starting position has been in doubt because of the uncertainty surrounding his recovery from the torn achilles he suffered Feb. 14 against Boise State.

The rest of the scholarship players include Drew, Jazz Johnson, Nisre Zouzoua, Corey Henson, Tre’Shawn Thurman, Vincent Lee, K.J. Hymes.

Hymes and Lee would be likely to redshirt as Jordan Caroline, Jordan Brown, Porter and Thurman are likely to get all the minutes for the Pack’s big men.

Louisiana Tech transfer Jalen Harris is the only scholarship player sitting this season, the fewest number of sitting transfers in Musselman’s time at Nevada.

The list of walk-ons is extensive as it includes the three new walk-ons, long time walk-on David Cunningham and Zach Wurm, who was not eligible to play last season.

Former Pack players shine in NBA Summer League

Former Wolf Pack player Kendall Stephens signed to play with the Orlando Magic’s Summer League team. Stephens was a third-team All-Mountain West selection and broke Jimmer Fredette’s Mountain West record for three pointers this past season. Cam Oliver also signed to play for the Philadelphia 76ers’ Summer League squad. This does not come as a surprise because Oliver played for the 76ers’ G League team, the Delaware 87ers –now known as the Delaware Blue Coats– last season.  

July

Pack gets to work

July has been relatively quiet month for Wolf Pack basketball as the team continues their summer practice sessions and works on finalizing it’s non-conference schedule. The Wolf Pack will play in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Holiday Invitational on Nov. 22 and 23 while the season opens against BYU on Nov. 6.

Dunson tags in

Nevada hired Brandon Dunson as new assistant coach for the on July 5. Although he’s only 29, Dunson has legitimate experience under his belt. After playing professionally in Mexico, Dunson was an assistant coach for three seasons at Arizona Christian University, then the Director of Basketball Development at Stanford for two years.