Nevada Hosts Its Pro Day: Are The Wolf Pack Better Than We Thought?
Are people underestimating Nevada Basketball?
Nevada’s first ever Pro Day is in the books, and by all accounts, it was a huge success. Thirty scouts from 20 NBA teams were on hand to evaluate some of the potential NBA talent on Nevada’s roster. As expected, veterans like Caleb and Cody Martin along with Jordan Caroline looked good. Caleb looked to be completely healed from the lisfranc sprain that hampered his play the last half of the season last year. There was spring in his step, good elevation on his jumper and he looked to be in midseason form, scoring virtually at will.
Cody did what Cody does, which is a little bit of everything. He was able to show his ability to facilitate during the 5 on 5 scrimmages as well as being a disruptor on defense. Cody is my personal preseason pick for MWC player of the year because of his ability to put his imprint on the game is so many ways. Not known as a scorer, even though he has a 30 point game last year, Cody showed improvement on his range as well as form on his jumper.
Everyone knows that Caroline has the heart of a true warrior and for those that don’t I highly recommend they rewatch Nevada’s first 2 NCAA Tournament games from last March. Caroline was Nevada’s center last season, an at 6’7” he was undersized, to say the least. Relying on grit and determination Caroline would often seek out contact when driving to the hoop, a ploy that got him to the free throw line 251 times, 8th best in the country last year. During the offseason, Caroline got to work out for a number of NBA teams and the feedback he got from some of those teams has changed his look and his game.
Introducing Caroline the slasher! Caroline has lost weight in preparation for his move from the five to the three position. It shows that Caroline has spent lots of hours working on his perimeter skills since the close of last season. During shooting drills, he was shooting very well from 3, an area where he had some trouble last season hitting a little over 32%.
But it was off the bounce that Caroline surprised people that have watched him play the past 2 seasons. Caroline driving from the perimeter was often like watching a pinball machine: Dribble, contact, direction change, more contact then the shot, and sometimes that shot was ugly. At Pro Day it was Caroline weaving between players, avoiding that initial momentum breaking contact and then finishing at the rim under control. It’s a scary thought for MWC teams, but Caroline is now a slasher as along with an improved 3 point shot.
For Trey Porter, it was a chance to make an impression, not only with NBA scouts but also on Nevada fans that were able to watch the event live courtesy online. Porter put his leaping abilities and penchant for the dunk on display early as the recipient of a couple of lob passes that he threw down with attitude. He handled low passes with aplomb and was surprisingly very agile and to effectively guard out on the perimeter. With outstanding footwork, Porter will be counted on to protect the rim for Nevada, but don’t be surprised if he isn’t one of the leaders in the nation in blocked three-pointers.
Jordan Brown does not act nor play like a freshman. It would have been very easy for Brown to be overwhelmed by the sight of 30 pro scouts sitting at tables lining one wall of the Ramon Sessions practice facility. The first takeaway is that he can handle the ball and will be one of many players on the roster that have the green light to take a rebound, put it on the floor and push it upcourt.
This was the cornerstone of coach Eric Musselman’s transition offense last year and it looks like we will see it again this year. Brown displayed good passing skills and range out to the 3 point line. Spacing was a concern for some analysts as they looked at Nevada’s offseason roster, but that was put to rest as Brown showed that he is quite suited at playing the stretch 4.
If we are being honest then none of the above was a real surprise. What was a surprise, an eye-opener and the reason why I am now convinced that preseason polls are undervaluing Nevada, is simply put, everything else. In an impressive display of organizational skills, the event ran like clockwork. Lineups were mixed and changed seemingly without a miscue as one drill quickly transitioned into another. But let’s talk about how incredibly deeply talented this team is.