Nevada Didn’t Make Much Sense For Jordan Brown A Year Ago, But It Does Now
The former five-star freshman is in the transfer portal weighing his options for next season
Who will land the talented big man this spring?
In an offseason that has had no shortage of storylines, arguably the biggest puzzle piece that has yet to placed is Nevada freshman Jordan Brown.
Brown played a modest role for this past season’s Wolf Pack team as a freshman, appearing in 33 games while averaging 10.1 minutes an outing.
However, his lack of playing time after being named a McDonald’s All-American and a coaching change were likely the main causes for the 6’11” big man to test his future playing options. Brown entered his name into the transfer portal on April 11, just days after Eric Musselman took the Arkansas head coaching job.
So that’s the main background information. None of it is surprising, really. Top recruits who don’t see much action as underclassmen usually transfer or test the draft waters, let alone a player whose head coach (who recruited him for years) up and left for a new coaching position.
Before we get into what’s next for Brown, I want to go back to his college decision and more on his freshman season.
First off, not only did I think Brown wouldn’t be the right fit (at least initially) with Nevada, I also didn’t give the Wolf Pack much of a chance of landing the top 20 recruit.
The Roseville, California, native chose Nevada over Arizona and Cal last spring. He also made visits with Louisiana, St. John’s, and UCLA, according to 24/7 Sports. You could probably make the argument that Brown would’ve seen more playing time with any of the aforementioned schools than the 332 scattered minutes he saw with Nevada in ’18-19. Arizona was pretty thin in the frontcourt this past season, UCLA was essentially down a starter since day one with Shareef O’Neal undergoing heart surgery, and there’s no question Brown would have carried a decent workload with any of Cal, Louisiana, or St. John’s.
Even so, Brown committed to Nevada with no fault of his own. By many people’s assessments, he was expected to bolster an already stacked frontcourt featuring seniors Jordan Caroline, Tre’Shawn Thurman and Trey Porter for a ridiculously versatile and skilled quartet.
The tweet I have linked below was from April 25 of last year, just a couple weeks before Brown announced he was committing to Nevada.
This is relevant because I did not expect Brown to leave the bench much as a freshman given Musselman’s history of playing short rotations and valuing production from his experienced upperclassmen. Nevada was 318th in bench minutes played in ’17-18, and even with eight former double-digit scorers and a five-star freshman on the ’18-19 roster, the Wolf Pack dipped all the way down to 346th in bench minutes played this past season. It begged the question throughout the season why Jordan Brown was only sparingly placed in the lineup even when the Wolf Pack suffered from fatigue, foul trouble, or needed a spark off the bench.
In short, I wasn’t really surprised with how Brown’s freshman season went. Unless Brown completely wowed everyone in the preseason and in non-conference play, the likelihood of the freshman receiving significant playing time on such a senior-heavy rotation was doubtful. If going one-and-done was Brown’s main goal, picking UCLA or Arizona would have probably made a lot more sense than Nevada in hindsight.
Brown now has a variety of options coming from across the country. Arizona, Kentucky, Oregon, Miami FL, LSU, Ohio State, and many others have had some form of contact with Brown and his family since his name reached the transfer portal. A number of schools that have reached out to Brown have a track record of sending players to the league, which appears to be at the forefront of Brown’s career aspirations.
Nevada offers something that none of these programs can offer at the moment, though. If Brown decides to stick with the Wolf Pack, he doesn’t have to sit out a year due to transfer rules and would surely be an immediate starter and impact player on Steve Alford’s squad. Should Brown choose to transfer elsewhere, he will be forced to sit out the ’19-20 season, meaning he will be three years removed from high school if he enters the NBA Draft class after his redshirt sophomore season. It could be tougher to break the lineup with one of the aforementioned schools and solidify a major role than it would be to return to Nevada.
With all of this in mind, Nevada probably didn’t make a ton of sense for Brown for the ’18-19 season, but it definitely seems like a formidable option for the upcoming campaign. Brown wouldn’t have to sit out a year, his starting spot on the roster is essentially a guarantee, and he already has familiarity with the Nevada program.
Eli Boettger is the lead basketball writer at Mountain West Wire. He’s covered Mountain West basketball since 2015 and his work has been featured on Bleacher Report, NBC Sports, SB Nation, Yahoo Sports, MSN, and other platforms. Boettger is a current USBWA member.