Last year's college basketball summer workout sessions were a mess.
The COVID-19 pandemic kept teams from having the traditional run up to the regular season, which was delayed by a couple of weeks as the world navigated an unprecedented pandemic. But things are back to normal this offseason, and the Nevada basketball team is thankful for that.
"I think we're making tremendous strides as a team," Nevada's all-conference guard, Grant Sherfield, told Nevada Sports Net at last weekend's Martin Twins Camp. "Our chemistry is only getting better. We have a lot of returners. We have four new guys, including two freshmen, and I just think we're going to be really, really good. You'll see a lot of growth with our team."
Third-year Wolf Pack coach Steve Alford has prided himself on player development from one year to the next, which could be a major advantage for Nevada this season. The Wolf Pack went 16-10 last year and was a CBI-level squad for the second straight season. But Alford has all of his pieces in his place entering 2021-22, including all five starters returning.
Sherfield said the Wolf Pack will be more prepared this season than it was last year because of the traditional offseason.
"It's going to give us more time than last year just to get everything in," Sherfield said. "It kind of felt like we had to rush everything, all of our plays and our defensive schemes, and this year we have a whole lot of time and will be ready from the jump to get it going."
In addition to the returning lineup starting, Nevada has added transfers Will Baker (Texas), AJ Bramah (Robert Morris) and Kenan Blackshear (Florida Atlantic) as well as freshmen Nick Davidson and Jalen Weaver. That will add depth the Wolf Pack lacked last season.
"We have a lot of dudes coming back, so we all kind of know how to play with each other and stuff," said Wolf Pack center K.J. Hymes, the lone holdover from the Eric Musselman era. "We're bringing in more and adding on, and I think it's going to be really exciting. It's going to be a good time."
Warren Washington, the Wolf Pack's starting center last season, said the Wolf Pack hasn't had any limitations this offseason after last summer's workouts with limited in numbers and heavily reliant on voluntary workouts rather than the traditional scheduled sessions.
Alford deeply believes in his program's player development system, citing the fact he and his associate head coach, Craig Neal, are sons of high school coaches and understand the importance and how to achieve yearly improvement. Washington said the Wolf Pack has taken positive strides this summer.
"Summer workouts are the best part of the season because you're able to just craft and get better and improve on everything in your game, both personally and as a team," Washington said. "I feel like it's great. We have a bunch of new additions. This summer has really been a good summer. I'm happy."