Kenan Blackshear, Nevada Wolf Pack

A core group of players return to the Nevada Wolf Pack and add more wolves to their pack.

As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.

Second-year seniors will be the backbone of this team. Jarod Lucas and Kenan Blackshear are returning to the Nevada Wolf Pack. They lost two starters, but coach Steve Alford went to the transfer portal. He grabbed an impressive big man from Clarendon Community College that will replace Will Baker. Alford also lost a forward in Darrion Williams but added a different one from Tulane in Tylan Pope. Both should immediately find playing time. The Wolf Pack added three freshmen.

The big start for the Wolf Pack made the move. Baker was the only player from the team to make a first or second team in the Mountain West Conference. At the same time, he did move on from the Wolf Pack, and a few other stars on this team returned. With this team having very little change, they are poised to compete for the top spot in the Mountain West.

Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.

Head coach:  Steve Alford (29th season overall, 5th at Nevada)

2022-23 record: 22-11 (12-6)

2023 postseason finish: Lost to Arizona State, 98-73, in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament

Notable departures: Will Baker (Transferred to LSU), Darrion Williams (Transferred to Texas Tech), Trey Pettigrew (Transferred to Bradley)

Notable nonconference games: at Washington (Nov. 12), vs Temple (Dec. 21)

Projected Rotation

PG: Kenan Blackshear (6-6, 215, Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 14.4 PPG, 4.6 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 3.1 TOPG

SG: Jarod Lucas (6-4, 195 , Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 17.0 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 37.8 3P%

SF: Tre Coleman (6-7, 185, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 6.3 PPG,  3.1 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, 35.8 3P%

PF: Tylan Pope (6-6, 240, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 6.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 0.3 APG, 1.3 BPG (Tulane)

C: Jeriah Coleman (7-1, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 9.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.6 BPG, 59.7 FG% (Clarendon)

6: Nick Davidson (6-8, 215, So.)

2022-23 stats: 6.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 0.4 APG, 35.8 3P%

7: K.J. Hymes (6-10, 235, Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 9.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 0.5 APG, 3.0 BPG, 66.7 FG% (4 games played) – Missed rest of season with injury

2021-22 stats: 3.1 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.2 APG

8: Daniel Foster (6-6, 215 , Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 1.5 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.0 APG, 16.7 3P%

9: Hunter McIntosh (6-2, 185, Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 2.3 PPG, 1.7 APG, 0.8 RPG, 6 games played

10: Tyler Powell (6-5, 220, Jr.)

2021-22 stats: 2.2 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.3 APG

Nevada Wolf Pack MVP: Kenan Blackshear

While the star of this team will likely remain Jarod Lucas, Kenan Blackshear is my MVP. Blackshear does it all for his team. He facilitates and creates shots and breakaways. Blackshear, last year, was fourth in assists per game (4.6), sixth in steals per game (1.5), eighth in 2-point field goals (138), ninth in points produced per game (15.0), and 13th in the MWC in points per game (14.1).

Blackshear is not a great 3-point shooter. However, he is quick and changes pace that leaves defenders floundering. He finds a way to score within the arc. His decision-making also makes defenders weary. Blackshear does, unfortunately, struggle with turnovers. This seems like an easy fix, and if he can be average in his assist-to-turnover ratio, Blackshear would end up on the MWC’s first team.

Nevada Wolf Pack make-or-break player: Jeriah Coleman

The loss of the impressive big man for the Nevada Wolf Pack, Will Baker, has left a hole in the offense. Enters Jeriah Coleman, the Clarendon product, who helped lead his team to a 25-5 record last year. In doing so, he finished his JUCO campaign with some impressive statistics. In a per-game format, Coleman grabbed 8.3 rebounds, shot 59.7% from the field for 9.1 points, and his most impressive stat was finishing third in the nation in blocks per game with 3.6.

Coleman has played Division I basketball with St. Francis (PA) in his first year. However, this league is a step up from the one he once played in. His role will be defined as he should slide right into the Will Baker role. Being the center, Coleman adds his shot-altering ability and has excellent timing against guards. He will be a tremendous pick-and-roll option on offense and, with his soft touch, can make the shots within the arc. Beyond that, Coleman plays through contact and has good footwork. He also has ball awareness and finds the ball coming off the rim.

Coleman is the make-or-break player because of the transition from JUCO to Division I. His weaknesses can be exploited, and if he isn’t ready to be a force in Division I, this offense will be in trouble. Part of the reason the Wolf Pack had so much success last year was due to having Will Baker as a big to draw in defenses to open up shots for others and to score. Coleman will need to improve his decision-making and work to make this team successful in the style of play they are accustomed to.

Key analytic: Offensive rebounding

The Wolf Pack have two glaring issues that can be fixed. The first focuses on 3-point defense; this team’s maturity should help adjust their 3-point defense. However, the one to focus on and should jump up is offense rebounding. Nevada had offensive rebounds of 7.4 a game which put the team at 337th nationally. Another area that the addition of Jeriah Coleman should be a massive benefit. The addition of Tylan Pope, I believe, will also help this area. Coach Alford must focus on this because it will provide second-chance scoring opportunities.

With the players that have come in, this should be an easy fix. Coach Alford can adjust with his leaders and experienced players. This focus could elevate this team, especially with an excellent free throw rate. The Wolf Pack last year were 24th in free throw rate. A fun fact, if a player goes up for an offensive rebound and a put-back, there is a solid chance of getting fouled.

Nevada Wolf Pack 2023-24 projections

Projected conference finish: 4th in Mountain West Conference

Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Round of 64

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