- There's plenty of reason to think that Nevada can go even further than the Sweet 16 this year, and one of them is the addition of five-star power forward Jordan Brown, one of its best recruits ever.
In the one-and-done era, college basketball fans have grown accustomed to having to get to know a slew of new, highly-touted names and faces each season, many of whom will spend just one year on campus before moving on to the NBA. Just look at the 2018 draft, where it took 10 picks before Mikal Bridges became the first non-freshman (or international) to be selected. Not all elite freshmen will pan out, but history dictates that many of them will help headline the sport for the next year—and, for some, maybe even beyond.
With that in mind, SI.com will be introducing you to the top incoming freshmen in college basketball and breaking down the impact those players could have this season. The rankings are according to RSCI Hoops, a composite that averages from 25 different expert top-100 lists. We move to the No. 20 recruit, Nevada's Jordan Brown. You can view all of the profiles to date here.
What he means for the Wolf Pack’s recruiting class
Nevada bumped its recruiting class up to a top-50 class for 2018 with a last-minute commitment from five-star power forward Jordan Brown. Brown will arrive in Reno alongside two other three-stars at the same position, K.J. Hymes and Vincent Lee. The 6’10” California native was the last uncommitted five-star recruit in the class of 2018 prior to signing with Eric Musselman and Nevada just this May (2019 recruit Charles Bassey later reclassified to 2018 and committed to Western Kentucky in June). While he won’t join a highly-regarded recruiting class like many of our other top-25 recruits, he does join a team that made an impressive March Madness run this past spring, hanging with some of the country’s most talented teams until the Sweet 16. Brown averaged 21.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.8 blocks per game at Napa's Prolific Prep and scored 26 points and recorded eight rebounds at the McDonald's All-American Game. The lone 2018 All-American to commit to a non-power conference team, Brown is one of the program’s biggest recruits ever.
How he fits
Musselman returns his three leading scorers in Cody Martin, a forward who saw time at positions one through four during his junior year, senior guard/forward Jordan Caroline, and Martin’s twin brother Caleb. The three combined to average 50.6 points, 20.3 rebounds and 9.5 assists per game last season. The Wolf Pack will need to replace starter and No. 4 scorer Kendall Stephens, plus sixth man Josh Hall, who transferred, but there's plenty of veteran and new transfer talent to help Brown in that endeavor. In return, Brown will be able to help the Wolf Pack get—and prevent—buckets under the basket. The power forward is best at the rim and on the rebound, but his above-average athleticism gives him an advantage over many men his size. He’s quick on his feet and with a catch, showing impressive ball control and an improved shooting range which could mean more time outside the four.
While senior point guard Lindsey Drew is still recovering from a ruptured Achilles, Cody Martin showed last year that he's capable of running the offense. Musselman is quick to shuffle his big men around and play an almost-positionless style of basketball, so he’ll put his best remaining men on the court at all times. Where exactly that leaves Brown in the lineup is yet to be determined, but assuming that he adds some muscle to his frame to help him contend at the collegiate level, it will be hard to keep the talented big man on the bench.
Importance to Nevada's success/team outlook
Brown was a huge get for Nevada and will certainly bolster the Wolf Pack’s potential for 2018–19. The team made it to the Sweet Sixteen last year, upsetting No. 2 seed Cincinnati before falling to Loyola-Chicago by just one point, but could go even further this year with Brown on board. Musselman has built the Wolf Pack program on transfers since his arrival in 2015, but the addition of Brown means an ability to start building his team from the bottom up and boost his future recruiting prospects. Combine what Brown brings with the talent of the Martin twins, and it’s no wonder why Nevada is listed as a top-10 preseason team. With that roster, it doesn’t look like they’ll disappoint.