Nisré Zouzoua’s first season at Nevada couldn’t have gone much worse.
Averaging just 1.3 points, 1.0 assists and 0.9 rebounds in only six minutes per game for the 2018-19 season, Zouzoua struggled at Nevada. Before coming to Nevada, Zouzoua played at Bryant, averaging 20.3 points per game during the 2016-17 season.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound guard dominated at Bryant. In his freshman season, Zouzoua led the team in scoring with 12.8 points per game, also leading all-conference among freshmen and finishing No. 12 in the conference. Zouzoua finished eighth in three-point field goals with 60, tallying double-digits in nine games.
He earned All-Northeast Conference First Team his sophomore season with the Bulldogs. Zouzoua led the Northeast Conference in scoring with 208 made field goals and 92 three-pointers. He also led in three-point percentage, connecting on 36.7 percent of his long-range shots.
With the help of head coach Steve Alford, Zouzoua is turning into the player he wants to be.
“[Coach Alford] told me to trust myself because he believes in me, just like I believe in myself,” Zouzoua said. “He told me about my change in roles and focus on being the best player I can be for the team.”
Alford noticed the potential in Zouzoua’s game and has played to let his talents shine.
The senior guard has played an average of 24.9 minutes per game this season, a huge jump from 19.7 per game last year.
“Nis was just one of those guys on the outside looking in and when he started the season not making all of his shots, he got pushed even further down,” Alford said of Zouzoua’s junior season. “If he understands good shot versus bad shot, if he takes good shots, he makes them.”
Despite his struggles during his junior season, Zouzoua didn’t lose confidence in his game.
“I always knew what I was capable of doing,” he said. “But I never really lost confidence…It was tough last year…I had to find ways to be a great teammate and help in other ways besides scoring. It was a great learning experience for me.”
Zouzoua’s season is off to a strong start. He added 16 points on 3-5 shooting from beyond the arc, both Nevada career-highs.
“It feels good to go out there and show people what I can really do,” he said postgame. “The coaching staff and my teammates have given me that confidence and telling me they really believe in me.”
The Bryant transfer is averaging 10.4 points per game, 1.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per contest through eight games in the 2019-20 season.
Zouzoua’s work ethic translates off the court as well. He and teammate Jazz Johnson have developed an inseparable bond and workout routine since joining Nevada.
“Jazz is my brother for life and living with him is great,” Zouzoua said. “We really push each other. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen and he pushes me…It’s very hard to live with someone who goes to the gym and you don’t go, so I need to join him and get a workout in too.”
Zouzoua has experienced a change of scenery at Nevada but recently, has started to show his true potential. His senior leadership will be heavily relied upon at Nevada.
Matt Hanifan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SagebrushSports.