Murray's Mailbag: What is Jordan Brown's legacy at Nevada?

Jordan Brown
Jordan Brown has moved on to Arizona after one season at Nevada. (John Byrne/Nevada athletics)

Back from vacation. Lots of stuff happened when I was gone. Got a lot of Mailbag questions. Let's roll. Thanks, as always, for the inquiries.

(Note: If you're not seeing the tweets, it's probably because you're not using Google Chrome. Use Google Chrome).

Yes, he did go.

I initially put an 85 percent chance on Jordan Brown returning to Nevada, in part due to the fact he was telling people at Nevada he planned on returning to Nevada. Things looked solid for the Wolf Pack during #OperationPackBack when Brown's teammates visited him in Roseville and they took a picture together and when Brown attended the team's end-of-the season banquet. But once he got off campus when finals ended, I said that was a bad development and it'd be much tougher to get him to return because he was no longer having daily contact with the Wolf Pack. In the end, I'm a little surprised Brown opted to sit out a season to transfer to Arizona, which is engulfed in turmoil, rather than being immediately eligible to play at Nevada this season, but not shocked.

When he committed to Nevada, Brown said his goal was to be one-and-done. He was clearly focused on getting to the NBA, as all players are. But now he won't really be draft eligible again until June 2021 when he's five month shy of turning 22. That's a big risk. Players are drafted so much these days based on their age and their potential rather than their production. This transfer delays Brown's draft clock pretty significantly. Even in the best-case scenario -- him breaking out as a redshirt sophomore at Arizona -- he's going to be relatively old compared to the rest of his draft class. But perhaps he thinks Arizona will develop him better than Nevada, so the added age is worth it.

The move doesn't kill his draft chances, but it does dim them a little. Brown took a chance by going to Nevada in the first place. He was the only 2018 McDonald's All-American to go to a mid-major school. There's a risk associated with that, but Brown's family trusted Eric Musselman, and that's why he went to Nevada. It should be noted McDonald's All-Americans signing with mid-majors has not exactly worked out in recent seasons. Since Anthony Bennett signed with UNLV in 2012 and was the No. 1 overall pick, 11 McDonald's All-Americans have signed with mid-major schools. Only two of them ended up playing for that school before becoming a first-round draft pick: Zach Collins at Gonzaga (which isn't really a mid-major) and Rashad Vaughn at UNLV. After taking that initial risk, it appears Brown and his family want to take the safer path moving forward, going to a national program, albeit one that has some current issues.

While I understand Brown's decision, the overriding feeling for me is sadness. Sadness for Brown that he didn't get much playing time at Nevada. And sadness for the fans, who won't get to see Brown blossom into his full potential, which remains big. I could see him being a 15-point, 8-rebound, 3-assist, 1-block kind of player for the Wildcats in time. Now, he could have put up those stats at Nevada as a focal point for the Wolf Pack this season. Steve Alford said he wanted to make Brown the face of this year's team. He made the right sales pitch. Nevada could offer Brown a ton of minutes, a high usage rate, Alford's good history with developing bigs and the fact he didn't have to redshirt. I thought that was a good combo. The Browns clearly thought Arizona offered more. Perhaps the trust at Nevada was broken too far to fix.

Brown's transfer lowers Nevada's ceiling a great deal (to around the ceiling of the 2015-16 team), and will lead to one of the great regrets in Wolf Pack basketball history. What if Nevada played Brown 20-25 minutes per game last season? Would he have stayed with the Wolf Pack even after Musselman left for Arkansas? We'll never know. But Brown is literally the highest-ranked prospect Nevada has signed in any sport, and he was misused during his one season in Reno. Perhaps that's his legacy in Reno above all else. Due to the lack of minutes, he wasn't given the chance to fail or succeed, and it would have been nice to see him do one or the other, to be given a chance to show what he could do.

I obviously was not in on any specific conversations between the two, but almost no school promises guaranteed minutes, so I doubt Nevada did that. That being said, the message was made pretty loud and clear he'd get more than 10 minutes per game. Brown did commit before the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline announced they were returning to school for their senior seasons, so the roster did change after his commitment. But Trey Porter was recruited specifically so he could play center and Brown could play his more natural power forward position. Instead, Porter was basically given Brown's minutes, with Tre'Shawn Thurman getting the bulk of the playing time at power forward.

If Brown wanted 30 minutes a game and a 25 percent usage rate, he could have gone to Cal. He knew minutes would be tougher to come by at Nevada. But no McDonald's All-American envisions playing 10 minutes a game, and Nevada clearly painted a more rosy outcome for his role. Brown did start the exhibition opener, a drubbing by Washington, at which point Nevada made the call to play only one big to space the floor better. Brown's minutes were cut as a result. Musselman was criticized in the NBA for playing veterans at the expense of young players, and that pattern didn't change much at Nevada outside of Lindsey Drew and Cameron Oliver, who he more or less had to play as freshmen during his first season with the Wolf Pack.

I am still a little confused on why Brown didn't get more minutes, a question that was asked of Musselman on a couple of occasions during the season. In Nevada's first five games, Brown averaged 8.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game while shooting 57.1 percent from the field in 17.8 minutes per contest. He was producing and then went seven straight games without hitting double-figures in minutes played. Even in conference action, he'd have good first halves before being glued to the bench in the second half.

It didn't make sense for two reasons: (1) As I wrote all season, Nevada needed to develop Brown so he was at his best in March when the games really mattered. Instead, got a DNP-Coaches Decision in the MW Tournament opener before getting just two minutes in the NCAA Tournament, his confidence clearly impacted by the short leash. And (2) Brown needed to be developed for the future. I know Musselman was hoping to jump to the Power 5 level, which eventually worked out for him, but if he didn't get the offer, he probably would have lost Brown via transfer thanks to the lack of playing time and broken trust.

Musselman did amazing things at Nevada -- four of the school's seven MW titles in all sports are a result of him -- but I never understood the handling of Brown, who produced fine for a freshmen when he played. The short-term thinking didn't pay off during the season (a 5-4 record over the last nine games, including a first-round NCAA Tournament exit) and didn't didn't pay off over the long run (this transfer). I haven't agreed with most of the criticisms of Musselman over the years (even him leaving for a better-paying job), but not playing Brown never made any sense to me. He recruited Brown for five years. Then he didn't play him.

DeAndre Ayton was worth way more than the $10,000 he reportedly got per month at Arizona. That being said, if Arizona is still paying players with the FBI and NCAA sniffing around, it is insane.

I don't think it is fair to assume any good player who heads to Arizona is getting paid. Also, the NBA doesn't care about that anyway.

Arizona had 14 players in the NBA this season. Nevada had one. Sean Miller has sent 17 players to the NBA since becoming Arizona's coach in 2009. That's why you go to Arizona. There also might be the belief that if the NCAA or FBI crushes Arizona, players will be eligible to transfer without having to sit out a season, which the NCAA has done in the past. It is a risk. One that I personally would not have taken. But Arizona sends players to the NBA, and Jordan Brown wants to play in the NBA.

Wolf Pack fans are salty.

I would not. Too much uncertainty, especially for a team that went 17-15 last season and 8-10 in a historically bad Pac-12. That said, the other options appeared to be Arizona State and Saint Mary's, neither of which were clear improvements over Nevada, enough to sit out a season. I said from the start I would have stayed at Nevada, logged my 30 minutes per season and if things didn't work out after this season, you still could have transfer to a school like Arizona, Arizona State or Saint Mary's without automatically pushing back your draft clock like this transfer does. That being said, every player has to be comfortable with their school, and if Brown and his family was more comfortable at Arizona than Nevada, that's his prerogative. I wish him the best of luck. He was a good teammate last season despite not getting much playing time and never rocked the boat or disturbed the team's chemistry.

And with that, after roughly 1 million Mailbag questions about Jordan Brown over the last 14 months, we have closed the book on Mr. Brown.

Josaphat Bilau (6-foot-10, 235 pounds, 7-3 wing span) is on an official visit right now. He reportedly holds offers from Kansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Wake Forest, Pitt and West Virginia, among others. Those are some big-time offers. He's not Nevada's last ditch effort at a big man, but he'd be a huge addition at this stage in the process. Steve Alford has done a solid job putting together a roster for this season, but the bigs have been a struggle. Since being hired, Alford has brought four big men on known official visits and has landed two of them (Zane Meeks and Warren Washington) while losing Jaume Sorolla to Cincinnati and Mahamadou Diawara to Stetson. The two big names he's lost off Nevada's returning roster (Jordan Brown and Shamiel Stevenson) also were power forwards. It's probably more coincidence than anything, but the Wolf Pack hasn't had a ton of success with big men so far.

The biggest selling point is the playing time. Everybody wants playing time and Nevada has plenty of potential playing time to hand out to big guys. That's a huge draw.

Bilau is the best big guy still out there on Nevada's big board. He'd be a huge get considering his offer list. Also, you can bookmark this page for Nevada class of 2019 recruiting news. I update it as often as information comes in.

They'll add somebody. You just keep working down the list and Kelvin Jones (Idaho State), Moustapha Diagne (Western Kentucky) and Jethro Tshisumpa (Mississippi State) are all grad transfers on the market who could help. Nevada will get another big before the season starts.

It is easy to forget, but the Wolf Pack does have K.J. Hymes (6-10/210) and Zane Meeks (6-9/210) on the roster. It's not like there is no size, although those two freshmen are best used as a power forwards. Eric Parrish could play power forward as a mismatch four, although he doesn't have a lot of bulk, either. Nevada could use a true center, but if it doesn't land one, it does still have Hymes and Meeks on the roster. The Wolf Pack just needs some more usable players at this point with only eight eligible scholarship players on the roster in mid-June. There are still some solid prospects out there, but things are getting thin.

Neither? Stefphon Jefferson was coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,883 yards and scored 25 touchdowns. He was running behind an offensive line that featured three future NFL players and two more that made NFL camps. Three of those five linemen weren't on the 2013 roster. Chris Ault had just resigned. There was no way he was going to boost his stock even more, so even though he never made an NFL roster (or even got very close), it was the perfect platform season to try and make the jump. He was never really an NFL-level running back to start with. And he came back and finished his degree after the fact, so that goal was achieved.

As for Cameron Oliver, he could have stayed for his junior season, but he was a projected high second-round pick who got invited to the NBA combine and worked out for nearly double-digit teams in individual workouts, so he had plenty of exposure after that sophomore season. Oliver also got a nice deal from the Houston Rockets even though he wasn't drafted (he got a two-year deal with a $300,000 guaranteed), which might have been better than anything he could have gotten even if he stayed at Nevada for another season. Remember, the Martin twins were added to the team that next season as was Kendall Stephens. Odds are Oliver's usage rate would have gone done anyway and his numbers would have plateaued at best and perhaps would have fallen with more talent on the roster.

Yes, Nevada could have made a Final Four run and Oliver could have boosted his stock into being drafted, but it's a myth that returning for another season helps a player. The Martin twins learned that this season. Their stocks appear to be down from last offseason. Age matters in the NBA draft (as we mentioned with Jordan Brown above), so I don't blame Oliver for trying to make the jump when he did. Yes, he could have boosted his stock with another season at Nevada. But he also could have wrecked his ankle like he did at the end of this season and not received that $300,000 guarantee he got from the Rockets. It cuts both ways.

He's working out again and looks good. It was a shame that ankle injury came when it did because I felt like he was going to get the call up to the NBA. I still believe he'll play in an NBA game. Of all the talented players Musselman brought to Nevada, Oliver had/has the most pro potential, more so than even the Martin twins, Jordan Caroline, Marcus Marshall, Kendall Stephens, etc. He was putting it all together in the G League last season before that ankle injury. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a training camp invitation this season, but he'll almost certainly have to work his way up through the G League to fulfill that NBA destiny.

While there are definitely some "dummy workouts" where players are brought into NBA workouts so the real prospect has somebody to go against, I don't believe Cody Martin is in that dummy role. Cody Martin is a potential NBA player. He just has to find the right fit. But he has NBA skills and a diverse enough skill set to make a team.

No. They're two different players. I don't think one performing well (or poorly) in the pre-draft lead-up impacts the other. Cody Martin is up to No. 67 on SI's list of top-100 draft prospects with Jordan Caroline at No. 66. Caleb Martin isn't on the list. It appears as if he stock is down right now, certainly lower than at this point last season, but I still expect him to be on a training camp roster.

I'd break Mountain West football coaches into the following tiers.

Tier I: Jeff Tedford, Bryan Harsin, Rocky Long, Craig Bohl

Tier II: Gary Andersen, Troy Calhoun

Tier III: Jay Norvell, Nick Rolovich, Mike Bobo

Tier IV: Bob Davie, Tony Sanchez

Tier V: Brent Brennan

So I'm fine with placing Norvell anywhere from seventh-ninth. The top six on this list all have won at least one MW divisional title except for Andersen, who has coached three Top 25 teams. It's still pretty early in Norvell's head-coaching career. Year three will tell us a ton. As I've written about before, the first two years of Norvell's tenure are basically the same as the first two years of Brian Polian's tenure. (I heavily favor Norvell as a head coach, but the first two years are just eerily similar.) Year three will tell us if Norvell deserves to jump up to tier II or should stay in tier III.

No. If he keeps grinding out 7-5 seasons with bowl berths, he'll get an extension not a hot seat. Given Nevada's facilities and how it is funded, 7-5 gets you job security as long as attendance is solid. As much as wins and losses, coaches are extended and fired based on attendance revenue these days. Attendance hasn't been great at Mackay Stadium during his tenure, but he inherited a tough situation on that end. Nevada should not be firing coaches who get to a bowl every season.

Here's his contract. Nevada is bound to Alford for at least eight years. Even after eight years, his buyout is $2.95 million. The Wolf Pack basically can't buy out Alford's contract at any point. He makes too much. Alford has more wiggle room. His buyout drops to $3 million the July after his third season. That's reasonable. It's down to $2 million in the July after his fourth season. He's only bound to Nevada for a couple of seasons without a stiff buyout. Alford got the better end of that deal. Even if Nevada is 18-12 with average attendance after a couple of seasons, it's a long-term situation for the Wolf Pack. They're in it for a decade.

The Mountain West has added the Los Angeles Bowl in 2020 against a Pac-12 opponent in the Rams/Chargers new stadium, which is an upgrade over the Las Vegas Bowl. The MW is locked in for six bowls in 2019, two against Power 5 opponents, including:

* Las Vegas Bowl vs. Pac-12

* Armed Forces Bowl vs. Big Ten

* New Mexico vs. C-USA

* Hawaii Bowl vs. BYU or American Athletic

* Famous Idaho Potato vs. MAC

* Arizona Bowl vs. Sun Belt

That's a pretty solid situation. Kudos to the MW for putting together that bowl schedule and getting the Los Angeles Bowl locked in for 2020.

As for Nevada versus UNLV, the Wolf Pack and Rebels both prefer the last weekend of the regular season, the traditional rivalry week, and put in a request with the MW to play the game on that date rather than Nevada Day weekend. They believe the stakes are higher at the end of the season with potential bowl and division championship scenarios on the line. Either way, attendance for the Nevada-UNLV game has waned in recent years. Is the date the issue? Some believe so.

Norvell hasn't had a ton of success with local recruits. He didn't sign any in his first three classes, although he did get his first commitment from a local kid in the 2020 class in Bishop Manogue linebacker Vai Kaho, who is still very open to visiting other schools before his signing day arrives. During those first three cycles, Northern Nevada has produced eight players who signed with FBS schools: Ale Kaho (Alabama), Cade McNamara (Michigan), T.J. Mauga (Fresno State), Adonis Williams (Air Force), Ben Dooley (Boise State), Peyton Dixon (Fresno State), Wyatt Draeger (San Diego State) and J.D. Kolb (Air Force). Nevada offered most of those kids but didn't land them. Each case is different. Kaho and McNamara were national recruits. Mauga and Williams aren't playing FBS football right now. Dooley and Dixon were tough misses. The Wolf Pack has shown interest in local kids, but seems to be having more success in Las Vegas than Northern Nevada. Norvell has done a good job with local walk-ons and has given some scholarships, so it's not like he's not rewarding local kids, but some quality players have left the area, especially if you include kids like Kaiden Bennett (Boise State), Joe Ngata (Clemson), etc. It'd be big if Norvell could keep a Jackson LaDuke or Joey Wright in town following this season, but both have major offers already.

A little early for all of that, no?

With zero research, I'll go Purdue 28, Nevada 24 with 21,000 in attendance. Offensive player of the game is Purdue receiver Rondale Moore. Defensive player of the game is Nevada linebacker Gabe Sewell.

Looks like I have Nevada with the points.

We need to define "good." Is that like a top-40 team? TCU ranked 40th in the Sagarin rating last season. Could TCU, which finished 7-6 overall and 4-5 in the Big 12, beat the BC Lions, which finished 9-9 in the CFL last season? No, I don't think. I believe BC wins that game pretty easily.

In no particular order:

* New York Yankees

* San Diego Chargers (old version)

* Seattle SuperSonics

* Alabama football

* Montreal Expos

* Oakland Raiders

* Notre Dame football

* Houston Astros (old version)

* Detroit Red Wings

* Tampa Bay Buccaneers (old version)

No statue necessary, but it was funny. And it was good to see Madison Bumgarner chirp at a white player since he tends to save those outbursts for Latino players.

That being said, I loved Muncy's retort after taking Bumgarner into McCovey Cove. Per Dodgers' play-by-play guy Joe Davis, Muncy said "Bumgarner said ‘Don’t watch the ball, run’, and I just told him if he doesn’t want me to watch the ball, go get it out of the ocean.” Bumgarner said: "I can’t even say it with a straight face but the more I think about it, I should just let the kids play. But I just ... I can’t. ... They want to let everybody be themselves, then let me be myself. That’s me.”

That's all good. I have no problem with players getting frisky with each other. There's no villain here. It's good for the game. And Bumgarner didn't throw at Muncy. That would cowardly. Both had fiery verbal responses to a homer. No biggie. Let the kids bark.

Given the Dodgers have zero titles in this run, yes I would take one. I haven't had one since 1988 when I was 6 years old. I'll take one for sure. I expect more than one over the next 10 seasons, though. The Dodgers have great organizational depth, have tons of money, have a good farm system and are exceptionally well run. I'll set the over/under on titles in the next 10 seasons at 2.5.

Hopefully not JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Whoever thought that would work needs to be fired. (And maybe that's why Magic is no longer in charge).

They wouldn't go anyway, so the question is moot. (But, yes, with a normal administration, I think a team based in Canada would get an invitation and visit the White House considering most of the players on the roster are from America and the league is based in the United States).

After Nevada's 82-49 win at Wyoming on Feb. 16, the Wolf Pack sat down as a team and discussed the fact vaccine rates for children under the age of 2 is declining because some adults are idiots who believe they are smarter than doctors. They were so disheartened by the fact we're all going to get wiped out by polio due to the incompetence of human begins, they decided they would no longer put 100 percent into the season because even if they did make it to the Final Four, the banner hung at Lawlor Events Center wouldn't been seen by anybody as we'd all be dead thanks because parents didn't vaccinate against a very preventable disease. As a result, the team finished the season 5-4 over its final nine contests with a first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament.

Decent. It seems like cities are battling more from UFC cards than boxing cards, so Reno could fill that vacuum by targeting traditional boxing events. Northern Nevada won't get the big title cards, but it could get some rising star cards thanks to the work being put in by the Lane brothers.

The ones I make, although those are technically from Sparks.

You would finish your journey at the end of a really shitty song.

Good observation, and I can explain that. That photo was taken at the end of a three-hour stand-up paddleboard tour that included snorkeling with dolphins. The guide said I should wear a shirt during the paddleboarding since it gets hot out on the ocean and I'd get fried if I didn't wear protection. By the time we got to snorkeling a corral reef at the end of the three hours, I jumped in the water with my shirt on because I had nowhere to put it on my board. So that's why I had a shirt on in the ocean, which is not my normal protocol when it comes to swimming.

Didn't make it there. Recommendations tend to work better when given before the vacation ends. But we loved Lava Lava Beach Club, Roy's and Brown's Beach House at the very fancy Fairmont.

All of the desserts. The desserts were so good. And I was in Hawaii for six days and nobody mentioned Nick Rolovich to me. Interestingly, Hawaii's roads were amazing. Hawaii's radio stations were horrible, though.

I had two small bags of potato chips and didn't see any green ones in there. I failed the Green Potato Chip Challenge.

Wrong island.

Also, wrong island.

I'd probably move to Hawaii and fill my time with doing as much volunteer work as possible. There are few feelings as good as serving others who need help. we're just all bogged down with our own jobs to be able to do that regularly. So try and do a good deed this week. I know I'll try. See y'all next week.

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