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Q&A with Nevada's Zane Meeks on preparing for a season in a pandemic

Zane Meeks
Zane Meeks defends during a game at UNLV that Nevada won in overtime last season. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

If you told Zane Meeks prior to last season he'd be Nevada's top returning scorer the following year, even he probably wouldn't have believed you. But that's the case after Wolf Pack star Jalen Harris turned pro early, meaning the team's top-four scorers from 2019-20 have departed the program this offseason, including three to graduation. Meeks' 6.4 points per game are the most of any returning player with K.J. Hymes second on that list at 4.1 points per game. Meeks is one of six Wolf Pack players who returned to campus earlier this month as Nevada athletics uses a phased-in approach to get ready for the 2020-21 season amid a pandemic.

Since Meeks had an excellent freshman season and will be counted on to be a leader this year, he is Nevada Sports Net's Wolf Pack Athlete of the Month for June, an honor presented in partnership with Champion Chevrolet. You can watch our full interview with Meeks below, or check out the Q&A underneath that.

Q&A with Zane Meeks

On been part of Nevada's return to campus program

Zane Meeks: "We weren't able to do anything the first two weeks. We were out of the training room, out of (the Ramon) Sessions (Performance Center) and haven't been able to get into Lawlor yet. Monday we can start working out. We lift with (strength) Coach (Matt) Eck four times a week and after that we have our time slot for Sessions from 1:15-4 p.m. We're able to do some voluntary workouts, play pickup, play two-on-two. We only have six guys cleared right now. The freshmen just got here, and some of the freshmen aren't even here yet, so it's just like this weird uncharted territory trying to get in the gym as much as we can, and it's just weird is the only way to describe it."

On getting to rejoin his teammates in Reno

ZM: "It's an absolute blast to be back with my guys. We're all such good friends, and all of us were sitting at home talking in our group chat every day saying, 'Man, we can't wait to get back.' It's been a fun two weeks, but we're certainly ready to go full steam with workouts with Coach and everybody when everything goes back to normal."

On helping his young teammates adjust to college ball sans coaches

ZM: "This is something we actually talked about, and there's no true way to simulate a college-level practice or college-level game. There's just no way. Everyone as a freshman comes in and thinks, 'Oh, I'm ready.' But you're not. I don't care who you are. There's nothing to simulate a college practice or game. It's just a completely different level. Everybody is much faster, much stronger, can jump higher. It's just no way to simulate it."

On what he took from his freshman season

ZM: "It was an absolute blast, and it was everything I hoped it'd be. Traveling the country playing in front of sold-out arenas every night is more fun that I could ever describe. Being back here for two weeks now without Scrizz (Nisre Zouzoua), Jalen (Harris), Jazz (Johnson), Lindsey (Drew), it's weird. It's weird. My freshman year, that's what I got used to. To not have Jazz come and bug me at 6 a.m. to go work out is weird. It's a total adjustment."

On being a team leader as a sophomore

ZM: "I'm trying to do my best. It is weird we don't have a true senior, we don't have a true leader based on age. I'm just doing my best trying to get everybody acclimated and ready to go for what is sure to be a memorable season with everything going on. Who knows if we're going to play, if we'll start in January. So right now make sure everybody's mindset is that we're going to start in November, and we need to prepare like we're going to play in November so we're ready. We don't have Jalen where we can say, 'Here. Go score.' It's going to have to be one of us. It's that mindset of, 'Get ready. We're 140-something days away.' It's coming quick."

On transfers Desmond Cambridge and Warren Washington

ZM: "I'll tell you what. Reno is going to love both of them. Desmond is a high-flyer, he has a lot of energy, he is a lot of fun to be around. He takes some wild shots, but he can really fly. Warren is going to be a beast. I think he's truly 7-(foot)-1. Nobody really knows. He's huge, and he dunks everything. It's to the point where if it's a pick-and-roll situation and he gets two steps toward the rim, it's going to be a highlight."

On Pack's proven talent shifting from backcourt to frontcourt

ZM: "Once again, we don't have Jalen. That's something that's the biggest change for me. We don't have a guy where we can say, 'Go score 30 (points) four games in a row.' We don't have that this year. I think we'll certainly do a lot more posting up this year. We didn't do a lot of posting up last year. We didn't really have to. We had four of the best guards arguably in the Mountain West. I think our offense will change a little bit. We've already had some Zoom meetings talking about that sort of stuff, but I think the inside game is going to be something that we seriously have to focus on this year. Last year, it was Jalen drive to the basket, Jazz shoot a three, Lindsey do whatever you want to do. Now, it's, 'Let's post up, let's get some movement on that backside, cut for some threes,' that sort of stuff."

On the sport he's most looking forward to returning

ZM: "Football. I need my Chiefs back. I want to win our second Super Bowl in a row. That's what I'm looking for. Give me football. That's all I care about."

On watching his hometown Chiefs win the Super Bowl

ZM: "Every playoff game was a roller-coaster. We were down 21-0 to the Houston Texans, and I'm sitting in my room near tears thinking, 'Is this really happening? This is how it's going to end? We're going to lose to the Texans?' We've got the best offense maybe ever, and this is going to happen? It was a roller-coaster. I was in my room, and Jalen was my roommate last year and he texted me, 'Are you OK?' after we won the Super Bowl because I was screaming calling all my family. I'm like, 'Can I get home to go to the parade?' We were in-season, so I couldn't. It was awesome. I don't even know how to describe it. It was way better than when the Royals won the World Series, I'll tell you that much."

For previous Wolf Pack Athletes of the Month Q&As, click here.

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