A couple of weeks ago, Nevada Coach Eric Musselman achieved the unattainable: landing 6-foot-11 five-star player Jordan Brown. Such a lauded recruit wasn’t supposed to even be in the realm of possibilities for the Wolf Pack as Brown surely would certainly not settle for the Mountain West Conference as well as the limited exposure that brings.
So why and how did this marriage happen?
The answers are multiple but, simply put, it was a confluence of the following factors:
- Musselman has turned Nevada into not just a winning program but a Big Dance Sweet 16 participant with 2018-19 expectations of a higher finish. Do not discount the importance of this as it’s likely Brown doesn’t come to Reno without the favorable odds of going deep in the national playoffs
- The Wolf Pack won’t pigeonhole Brown to turnaround jumpers in the paint on offense.
- Yes, Musselman was Brown’s first offer and he stayed in constant contact but, critically, he also adopted the role of lead recruiter, something most coaches at least initially leave to assistants. Conversely, the Browns did not ‘big time’ the interest from ‘little’ Nevada. On the contrary, the pairing’s relationship deepened as time went on. Plus, the Wolf Pack didn’t surrender once Brown became a national recruit. It would have been easy to succumb to doubt and fold the proverbial tent once UCLA, Arizona and the like joined the recruiting fray.
- Musselman being a high energy coach added to Nevada’s intrigue.
- Down to Nevada, California and Arizona (it’s fascinating that Brown only officially visited California of the final three) as landing spots, choosing the Bears would have meant enduring a period of rebuilding, maybe for Brown’s entire tenure as a collegian. Additionally, the unresolved questions surrounding Wildcat Coach Sean Miller and the on-going NCAA investigation had to at least raise concerns for the Browns although Arizona wasn’t listed among the early leaders for Brown’s services but later quickly made up ground. The proverbial stars were aligned here for the Wolf Pack.
Fans complaining about ‘their’ coaches being unable to land a five-star recruit need to understand the reality behind such an achievement. A winning team comes first, one that hopefully has already made some Big Dance noise. To his credit, Musselman swiftly turned his Wolf Pack program in reaching those benchmarks. Without this ‘base’ as a jumping off point in the continued pursuit of Brown, forget it. Plus, he did it his way, trailblazing primarily with transfers from four-year schools which makes the Wolf Pack success all the more remarkable.