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Breaking down Nevada basketball's roster, expectations after season's first practice

Nevada basketball
Nevada basketball returns five starters from last season, including Tre Coleman. (Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State)

The Nevada basketball team held its first full practice of the 2021-22 season Friday at the Ramon Sessions Performance Center with the Wolf Pack entering the season with legitimate NCAA Tournament aspirations. Nevada is coming off back-to-back years without postseason appearances, with no postseason being held in 2020 due to the pandemic and the Wolf Pack opting against non-NIT postseason invites in 2021. But with a strong cast of returning players blending with five newcomers, the Wolf Pack is aiming for a return to the Big Dance after making three straight appearances in the event from 2017-20 under former head coach Eric Musselman.

Coaching staff

Unlike the constant staff churn during Musselman's tenure, Steve Alford will have the same full-time assistant staff for his third straight season. The group is led by associate head coach Craig Neal in addition to assistants Kory Barnett and Bil Duany. Alford has made 11 NCAA Tournament appearances in his 26 seasons as a Division I head coach, going 11-11 in those events. He's looking for his first postseason berth at Nevada and first NCAA Tournament berth since 2018, his last full season at UCLA. Of note: Alford's guaranteed salary will increase from $500,000 last season to $1.15 million this year. It will continue to escalate, all the way up to $1.5 million in 2028-29, the last year of Alford's 10-year contract.

Returning starters

Nevada brings back its entire starting lineup from last season, a group that includes the following players:

PG Grant Sherfield: The MW newcomer of the year last season, Sherfield averaged 18.6 points, 6.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 43.3/36.7/85.5 en route to first-team All-MW status.

SG Desmond Cambridge Jr.: An athletic wing player, Cambridge earned third-team All-MW honors after knocking down 69 threes in 26 games, hitting them at a 34.8 percent clip. Cambridge averaged 16.3 points and 4.5 rebounds.

SF Daniel Foster: A true freshman from Australia, Foster missed the first couple months of the season due to a shoulder injury. He stepped into the starting lineup when healthy and is likely to move to a reserve point guard role this year.

PF Tre Coleman: Another true freshman starter, Coleman is a long wing player who has great potential defensively. He averaged 5.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game and should be an improved offensive player.

C Warren Washington: A 7-foot transfer from Oregon State, Washington is super athletic for his size and averaged 10 points (third on the team) and a Nevada-best 5.9 rebounds per game on 58 percent shooting. He is one of the MW's top centers.

Other returners

PF K.J. Hymes: Hymes is entering his fourth season at Nevada and had a sizable role last season, starting five of his 26 games. He averaged 6.4 points (on 52.2 percent shooting) and 3.4 rebounds and had a team-best 24 blocks.

SG Alem Huseinovic: The native of Bosnia and Herzegovina played sparingly as a true freshman, scoring 39 points in 160 minutes while shooting 31.6 percent from the field, including 28 percent from three.

PF DeAndre Henry: As a true freshman last season, Henry also didn't get consistent playing time, playing 94 minutes and tallying 33 points and 13 rebounds. He was good on a per-minute basis and has earned positive reviews for his offseason work.

Impact transfers

Under Alford, Nevada has hammered the transfer portal, and the Wolf Pack could potentially start five D-I transfers this season. Here are Nevada's three first-year-eligible transfers for this season.

C Will Baker: The former five-star recruit is a 7-footer who can stretch the defense to the 3-point line and is an excellent passing big man. He only made 27.5 percent of his shots at Texas (6-of-39 from three), but has a lot of potential.

PF AJ Bramah: One of the nation's most productive players last season at Robert Morris, the uber-athletic Bramah put up 21 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in 2020-21 and could slot into the Wolf Pack's starting lineup.

SF Kenan Blackshear: A big guard with great bloodlines, Blackshear spent the last two seasons at Florida Atlantic and tallied 9.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He's a great depth piece who could be an elite defender.

Other additions

CG Jalen Weaver: The top 2021 recruit out of the state of Colorado, Weaver spent his senior season at a SoCal basketball academy. He's an excellent scorer with great size for a guard, although Nevada's backcourt is deep.

PF Nick Davidson: The son of two former Wolf Pack athletes (Kirk was a basketball player; Kelly a volleyball player), Davidson played at powerhouse Mater Dei and has a great skillset, although playing time might be hard to come by.

Overall outlook

Nevada will be picked in the top three of the Mountain West preseason poll (along with Colorado State and San Diego State). This is the deepest team of Alford's three-year tenure at Nevada, with the Wolf Pack capable of going nine players deep in proven D-I contributors. The team's backcourt is elite, and the Wolf Pack has a rare combo of size and skill in the frontcourt. The offense should be well above average; the defense is a bigger question mark. That unit wasn't great last season, but it can potentially be a big plus. If Nevada makes defensive gains, it can be a top-50 team in the nation that fights for a MW regular-season title and NCAA Tournament berth, although the soft non-conference schedule doesn't leave much margin for error.

You can watch the full NSN Daily breakdown of the team below.

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