Moe Golshani and Bill Ballinger decided to put in a good word for Gabe Bansuelo with the Nevada basketball staff.
And in the end, that paved the way for Bansuelo, the former Bishop Manogue standout, to join the Wolf Pack's roster.
Bansuelo officially joined Nevada as a walk-on a little more than two weeks ago and has been taking part in Wolf Pack's summer practices.
“Some of my former coaches, my high school coach (Golshani) and youth basketball coach (Ballinger), had some connections with the Nevada staff," Bansuelo told Nevada Sports Net on Friday. "I didn’t even ask them to get in contact with the staff, but they did on their own and the staff was interested. I’m sure they looked deeper into it and it was a full go after that.”
Bansuelo is a 6-foot-1 guard who led Manogue to the Northern 4A Region championship last season while the Miners posted a 26-4 overall record and 10-0 league mark.
As a senior, Bansuelo averaged 16 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game. He shot 46 percent from he field, including 34 percent from three, and 63 percent from the free throw line. Bansuelo tallied a career-high 18.3 points per game as a junior for the Miners, shooting 51 percent from the field and 42 percent from three. The three-year varsity player also averaged 10.9 points per game as a sophomore.
Bansuelo didn't know if he'd play college ball after high school until June when Golshani linked up with Brandon Chambers, who at the time was Nevada's director of operations (he has since accepted a full-time assistant gig at Texas Southern). Chambers put in a good word with Steve Alford and his new staff.
“I talked to them and they offered me the spot," Bansuelo said.
Bansuelo's initial plan was to potentially walk on at Cal State Fullerton, where he childhood friend, Cameron Carter, the son of ex-Nevada head coach David Carter, is planning to walk-on this season. But when the Wolf Pack stepped in, it was too good of an opportunity to turn down.
“I’ll be in-town and in-state and I will basically be doing that same thing for a lot less money and for a better program," Bansuelo said. "All and all, it was a better opportunity that Cal State Fullerton.”
Bansuelo estimates he's watched about 30 Wolf Pack games at Lawlor Events Center as a fan. He had planned on leaving Reno for college but will instead stay home and major in business at the university. At Manogue, Bansuelo played with his older brother, Brevon, and his twin brother, Dan. His family is thrilled he's staying home for college.
“They were super pumped as well," Bansuelo said. "Hometown and everybody loves Nevada basketball right now, so they thought it was super exciting and they’re super excited for me.”
Bansuelo is the first walk-on to join the team since Alford was hired in April. He didn't take part in the Wolf Pack's first session of summer school practices but did watch the workouts and noticed the different level of play in Division I.
“I was watching the practices when I wasn’t cleared and I could see the intensity and the standard that’s set is at a much higher level," Bansuelo said. "You have to bring it every practice. You can’t slack at all or you’ll be pushed off the team.”
Bansuelo said he loves the Wolf Pack staff and is most looking forward to enjoying the game-day experience from the team's bench. His goal this year is to help the team as much as possible in practice.
“I just want to be able to compete in practice and make everybody better, make the starters better, the guys who will play better and be a really good teammate and cheer them on when I’m on the bench and kind of be the hype man," Bansuelo said.
As a local walk-on, there's a good chance Bansuelo becomes a fan favorite, but he said he's focused on what he can do for the Wolf Pack behind the scenes.
“That’d be cool, just being a local person for a team I love, that’d be cool for sure," Bansuelo said of potentially getting his name chanting late in blowouts. "But I want to focus on being the best teammate I can be and making the players around me better.”