Nevada Sports Net’s Chris Murray will break down each of Nevada’s 12 eligible scholarship players prior to the Wolf Pack basketball team’s season opener Nov. 6 versus BYU. We will count the players down in alphabetical order using their last names. Today’s player: Jordan Caroline.
Position: Small forward
Hometown: Champaign, Ill.
2017-18 stats: 34.8 mpg, 17.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.2 apg, 0.7 spg, 47.4 FG%, 32.4 3PT%, 70.9 FT%
Likely role: Caroline returns for a fourth season (third on the court) at Nevada and will resume what he’s done his entire Wolf Pack tenure: out-work opponents and serve as the heart and soul of the team. He will, however, do it at a different position. After being stuck at center for the under-sized Pack last season, Caroline is now at the wing, where he’ll start at small forward while surely getting minutes at power forward, too. Caroline dropped about 15 pounds to be more prepared to play on the perimeter. One big key is shooting a higher clip from three. He dropped from 33.7 percent in 2016-17 to 32.4 percent in 2017-18. Getting that number into the mid-to-high 30s is important if he’s going to play more on the outside (and get the attention of pro scouts). Caroline will remain one of the Wolf Pack’s top rebounders and his ability to slash and get to the rim are elite. Others on the team might get more acclaim than Caroline, but nobody on the Wolf Pack roster is more important.
Key stat: 360 — Caroline is 360 rebounds shy of 1,000 in his Wolf Pack career. If he reaches that number – he must average at least nine rebounds per game, so that’s a tough ask – Caroline would become the fifth player in program history with at least 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds at Nevada. The four currently in the club are Nick Fazekas, Edgar Jones, Pete Padgett and Dario Hunt. The big caveat here is Caroline has had only three active seasons with the Wolf Pack, which would make the feat even more impressive. As is, Caroline’s 640 rebounds (in just two years) rank 10th in program history.
In his words: “It’s crazy to see the program's transition and being a part of it and seeing it come from rock bottom and now being at the top and being projected as a top-10 team. … I had offers from some great, already established programs but I wanted to do something new and try to turn something around, especially at a place where people didn’t think it could be done. … Basically (NBA scouts) want to see me shoot the three at a solid rate. That’s pretty much the biggest thing I took away from (testing the NBA draft waters) and the thing I’ve focused on the most. … When I saw all that stuff (about potentially transferring to Illinois) this summer, I said, ‘How did all of this start?’ I was more surprised than anybody. I have no idea how it started. … The first thing is we have to get back to the tournament. We can’t overlook that. But once we do that, the sky’s the limit. I just think we can’t think too far ahead. … I’m just here to play my heart out and not worry about anything else. I’m not the person who wants the attention. I’m used to not having it.”
Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MurrayNSN.