Posted: 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 26, 2013
All basketball programs lose seniors to graduation, and all programs go through the inevitable of losing transfers after their freshman and sophomore years. Rarely must a program rebuild on the fly as much as the Nevada Wolf Pack and coach David Carter must do next year after losing three players that decided to transfer after their junior years.
Here is a look at the key losses and who will attempt to replace them for the Pack in 2013.
Loss: Malik Story
Replacement: Michael Perez
A transfer from UTEP who sat out the 2012-13 season, junior guard Perez will need to replace the outside shooting and overall scoring void left by Story. At times last year, Story seemed to be the only Pack player other than Deonte Burton capable of putting up points on the scoreboard, but he was streaky and turnover prone. In his sophomore year at UTEP Perez averaged 11 points per game, which will need to increase slightly in 2013-14. Perez is more athletic than Story which should allow him to attack open driving lanes. Furthermore he shot a higher percentage (36.9 percent) from deep in his 2011-12 season than Story (35.8 percent) in his senior year at Nevada. Perez will step in the starting lineup and be the perfect backcourt mate to Burton.
Loss: Jordan Burris
Replacement: D.J. Fenner
A starter for parts of the year, Burris (6.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg) decided to transfer following his junior and best year at Nevada, leaving a position for D.J. Fenner to produce immediately. Sophomore Cole Huff will likely see his minutes increase because of the departure, but Fenner, instead of coming in as a freshman with limited minutes, will be counted on immediately. Coming from Seattle Prep, the same school as former Nevada guard Patrick Nyeko, Fenner had offers from Pac-12 schools and Gonzaga, but chose the Pack. He won't need to produce at huge levels for Nevada, but a line of six points, three rebounds, and two assists, would be considered a major success for his freshman year.
Loss: Kevin Panzer
Replacement: AJ West
West may be the most important replacement on this list. Nevada in 2012 got next to nothing from there centers, and West will most likely step in immediately as a starter. Panzer last year was soft and unproductive, often getting booed by the Nevada fans at home towards the end of the year. But West (6'9" 230 pounds) spending his sophomore year at Monroe College, averaged 10.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 5.1 blocks per game. His biggest problem in the Mountain West will be his size. The athleticism is there as evidenced by the blocks, but the bigs in the MWC will try and use there physically to move the smaller West around. He should be able to match and likely pass what Panzer did on the offense end and rebounding (4.8 points and 4.3 rebounds) last year for Nevada, but he could become a shot blocking force, like Dario Hunt was a couple years ago.
Loss: Devonte Elliot
Replacement: Ronnie Stevens, Lucas Stivrins
Elliot's three years at Nevada ended in disappointed when he followed both Burris and Panzer and decided to transfer following his junior year. Elliot though, won't be missed from a basketball standpoint as he only averaged 4.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 17 minutes a game. At the Division I level that simply cannot be the norm. Stevens and Strivins will be fighting for minutes with returning big men Ali Fall and Richard Bell. Both transfers spent their previous years at JCs, but were unimpressive. I expect one of these two to play limited minutes this year and the other to ride the bench fight for minutes in the 2014-15 season.