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What would Nevada football's starting five in basketball look like? A team captain answers

Elijah Cooks
Nevada football star Elijah Cooks was briefly a member of the Wolf Pack basketball team during the 2018 Sweet 16 season. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Jermaine Ledbetter is a key member of Nevada's offensive line these days, but he was a basketball player growing up.

"I was definitely skinnier in high school," the 6-foot-3, 320-pound Ledbetter said on Tuesday's edition of NSN Daily. "Double-double every night."

Ledbetter flipped to football his senior season, in part because his father, who died of a brain tumor when Ledbetter was in 10th grade, always wanted him to try the sport. And while Ledbetter has forged a great career on the gridiron, there will always be a little bit of basketball player in him. So we asked Ledbetter what a Nevada football version of a basketball starting five would look like.

"My starting five," Ledbetter said before pondering. "I've got Carson (Strong), Cookie (Elijah Cooks), Cole (Turner). Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. Nate Cox. And me and Dom P(eterson) at the four and the five. I like that starting five."

Let's see how good that starting five would be.

* Carson Strong: The Wolf Pack quarterback averaged a double-double (14.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg) as a three-year varsity starter at Wood High in Vacaville, Calif., during his freshman-junior seasons. Strong missed his senior season following knee surgery but still scored 1,202 points with 862 rebounds, 164 assists and 106 steals in his prep career. He made 53 percent of his shots and 72 percent of his free throws. And you'll probably see these photos on NFL broadcasts when he makes it to the league.

* Elijah Cooks: The 6-foot-4 wideout was one of two Wolf Pack football players added to the Nevada basketball roster late in the 2017-18 season to bolster the team's numbers (the other was Justin Brent). The consensus at the time when talking to Nevada hoops players was Cooks was legit and could have played some D-I basketball if that was his focus. As a senior at Atascadero (Calif.) High, Cooks averaged 12.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.9 steals per game. He didn't score in four minutes with the Wolf Pack.

* Nate Cox: My guess is Ledbetter put Cox on the team because the Wolf Pack quarterback is 6-foot-9, and if you're forming a basketball team, you need size. But Cox's No. 2 sport behind football was baseball as he played in the Little League World Series and reached Williamsport with a team out of Lafayette, La. I am unaware of Co'x basketball chops, but 6-9 is 6-9, so I can see why he'd make Nevada football's starting five in basketball. At minimum, he can grab some rebounds and block some shots.

* Jermaine Ledbetter: I was unable to track down any of Ledbetter's high school basketball stats on MaxPreps, but since he said he was a double-double guy, I'll take his word for it. I did find evidence of him earning first-team all-league honors in the the Pinellas County Athletic Conference (that's part of the Tampa–St. Petersburg area) as a senior. Only six players made first team, and Tampa-St. Pete is a big area, so it's fair to say the dude could ball and deserves a spot on the team.

* Dom Peterson: Peterson appears to have played high school basketball as a junior at Narbonne High in Southern California (there's a Dominique Peterson on the roster), and that team made it state that season. Peterson wasn't on the roster his senior season, but I think we can assume he had some game on the hardcourt. But I get the feeling Ledbetter put Peterson, who came to Nevada as a 300-pounder, and himself on the team to knock some people around in the post.

Given Ledbetter didn't have time to prepare for the question, it looks like he put together a solid starting five, although Turner probably should have been on the team. The 6-foot-6 tight end did in fact play high school basketball for Clackamas (Ore.) High and appears to have averaged 16.3 points per game as a senior when he was named first-team all-league. Defensive end Sam Hammond, who is 6-foot-5, also averaged a double-double as a sophomore at Yerington High and was worthy of consideration. And Marquese Allen-Patmon, a 6-foot-1 defensive back, also was a solid high school basketball player who averaged 9.1 points and 9,4 rebounds per game as a junior for Lincoln High in San Diego. Maybe swap two of those in for Cox and Peterson and you have a legit starting five.

You can watch Jermaine Ledbetter's full NSN Daily interview, which largely was about the Nevada football team, below.

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