When Steve Alford announced Nevada's 2020 recruiting in November, it'd be fair to say Wolf Pack fans weren't overly excited. The five-player class, which included all high school players, was not highly acclaimed by recruiting sites, with only one of those five players even drawing a recruiting rating. Asked the day after announcing his class about those rankings, Alford was clear in his assessment. "I won’t care one iota where our recruiting class is ranked,” he said. And five months later, Alford's 2020 class is looking even better with one player a finalist for Northern California player of the year (Je'Lani Clark), a second among the highest-rated players the Wolf Pack has signed (Tre' Coleman), a third making the prestigious Grind Session All-Star Game (DeAndre Henry) and the two others (Alem Huseinovic and Daniel Foster) both playing national schedules for elite prep programs.
We caught up with Nevada assistant coach Kory Barnett this week and he talked about the Wolf Pack's 2020 class. "We're really, really excited about our class," he said. "We had a couple of key points that we wanted to hit. We wanted to make sure we got a different array of talent and we really did." Here is a look at all five players who will join Nevada in 2020-21. (The class also includes Wichita State transfer Grant Sherfield, who must redshirt next season under NCAA transfer rules).
Clark is a 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard from Oakland, Calif., who played for Archbishop Riordan High in San Francisco as a four-year varsity player. He helped the program go from 8-18 overall and 1-13 in league during his freshman season to 23-5 overall and 11-3 in league as a senior when Riordan won a share of the regular-season league title and was ranked 34th in the nation by MaxPreps.com. Clark was the co-MVP of the West Catholic Athletic League and is a finalist for the NorCal player of the year award after averaging 15.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals. "He can be a point guard and can share it and can also score it," Barnett said. "He has good athleticism. We really liked him. His high school coach did a great job and compared him to Patrick Beverley. He really has a tough mindset and likes to get into guys." Comparing him to Nevada alums, Clark's floor is a Lyndale Burleson-type player who can be a defensive ace, although his upside is that of Deonte Burton thanks to his athleticism (a lot depends on whether Clark can hit threes at the college level, an area he improved in high school). Clark's median outcome is probably a career like that of Marqueze Coleman. He could be a special player and has a high floor given his defensive ability. Nevada lost three key backcourt players this offseason (Lindsey Drew, Jazz Johnson and Nisre Zouzoua), so Clark has an open path to early minutes thanks to his athleticism and defensive intensity.
Foster is probably the biggest project player in the five-man class (it's not always easy going from overseas to Division I ball). A 6-foot-6, 185-pounder from Melbourne, Australia, Foster moved to America to play for Golden State Preparatory School in Napa, a post-grad offshoot of powerhouse prep school Prolific Prep, which churns out Division I players. He's played internationally at the under-18 Asia Cup series, where he was an all-tournament pick, and in Australia's under-20 national tournament where he earned all-state honors. He's a lanky guard who could slide all the way to power forward if he adds weight. Nevada head coach Steve Alford and associate head coach Craig Neal had success with Aussies during their stint at New Mexico and will try and do the same with Foster, who has a versatile skill set. If there's one question now, it's his shooting ability. But he can do a lot of things well, ala Lindsey Drew, another tall point guard. "He's 6-6 and can go anywhere from a one to a three and possibly even a four with some added strength," Barnett said. "He brings a lot of versatility. Coming from Australia, Coach Neal and Coach Alford have had Cameron Bairstow and Hugh Greenwood at New Mexico and kind of already had that pipeline. They were really excited about that connection." Given his size, Foster could land in a number of different positions. It will be fun to see how he is developed and which position he plays at the college level.
Henry has a fun story because he was a three-star recruit as an offensive lineman who had Power 5 offers. But he decided going into his junior season he wanted to play basketball, and Nevada quickly got a commitment out of him. A 6-7, 225-pound power forward, Henry played for Mountain Pointe High in Phoenix as a junior before transferring to Phhoenix Prep, an upstart program that plays in the acclaimed Grind Session, which culls the nation's best high school programs. Henry transformed his body into a more slender frame and is a tough, strong and physical player with surprising athleticism given he's a former offensive lineman. "He was an unbelievable football player who kind of gave that up and moved toward basketball and put that focus in and his ceiling is just tremendous," Barnett said. "He has great athleticism and strength and once he fully converts from that football body to that basketball body, I think he's going to be a special, special kid." Henry likes to roam in the paint rather than the 3-point line. He's already played against great competition and should be in the mix for immediate playing time. Despite being an unranked player, Henry was one of 22 players voted into The Grind Session All-Star Game held in Benton, Ky. The rest of the rosters consisted of four- and five-star players, so Henry clearly earned the respect of other coaches on The Grind Session and should add something to the Wolf Pack immediately.
A 6-3, 180-pound shooting guard, Huseinovic was the first player to commit to Nevada's 2020 recruiting class, doing so without taking an official visit to campus. Huseinovic is originally from Bosnia & Herzegovina and has played at the international youth level for years. He moved to Arizona as a teenager and played for Chaparral High where he tallied 10.9 points per game as a sophomore and 14.2 points per game as a junior before playing for PHHoenix Prep alongside Henry for this senior season. Huseinovic has one standout skill, and that's his shooting ability. He made 101-of-264 threes (38.3 percent) during his sophomore and junior seasons while leading his school to the 6A state title game in his last year on campus. If you're wondering who will replace Jazz Johnson's shooting for Nevada, Huseinovic is the answer. "He can really, really shoot it and has a tough mindset," Barnett said. "I think that fans at Nevada will really, really like him and the way that he plays." Huseinovic has a quick release and good size, so making the jump to the college level from a shooting perspective shouldn't be an issue. He's also played against great high school competition on The Grind Session tour, so he should be ready for Division I ball. I wouldn't be shocked to see him make a similar freshman impact to that of Zane Meeks, only in the backcourt rather than the frontcourt. Players who can shoot usually find the court for Alford, and Huseinovic can shoot.
A 6-7, 185-pound forward, Coleman is the highest-rated prep player in the 2020 class, a three-star recruit who is the seventh-highest-ranked high school player the Wolf Pack has signed. Coleman is an Indiana kid who played at Jeffersonville High, the first player Alford has signed out of his hometown Hoosier State. Coleman largely played in the post in high school but projects as a wing at the college level. He was a three-year varsity player and was highly productive, averaging 15.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.9 steals per game during his three seasons. Coleman is an efficient player, hitting 65 percent of his twos in high school (69 percent in his senior season). He didn't shoot a lot of threes, but made 40 percent of 88 attempts. "He comes from Indiana where a lot of us have a lot of roots, so that was cool for us to be able to get a kid like him to come out from Indiana," Barnett said. "We're excited about him. He's kind of that position that's really important not only in our league but in all of college basketball. Possibly a three, possibly a four, having some strength and being able to guard a lot of different positions." Coleman is an excellent athlete and Nevada has a void at small forward, so he could be in the mix for a starting spot if he can transition quickly. Of the five players in the class, Coleman's high school competition was probably the lowest, although Indiana high school ball is generally strong. Coleman has the biggest ceiling of these five players if he can reach it.
You can watch Barnett break down the prospects in the video below.