This post will start a 10-part series every day until practice opens on Oct. 15.
The WAC lost a ridiculous amount of talent from a year ago. Adrian Oliver from San Jose State is the lone returning player in the top 10 scorers from a year ago. The top 3 rebounders and six of the top 10 are gone. It opens the door for new players to step in, but from top to bottom, this year is a down year in talent level across the board. It will be interesting to see what newcomers emerge as the year goes on, but here are some of the names that to me at least, will carry the torch early on.
All but two of the Top 10 are returners. Hawaii has a transfer from Arizona in Zane Johnson, Fresno State has former Lobo Jonathan Willis and Brandon Wiley returns for Idaho after missing last year with an injury. And freshmen are always hard to figure.
The definition for what qualifies for the Top 10 are somewhat loose. Like I said before, the determining factor you will notice is they are all proven guys in the WAC and for their particular teams. When the preseason polls come out, I think Utah State and New Mexico State will be unanimous as first and second in some order and the number of quality players returning on both teams are a big reason. Not every team is represented here, but the lower teams have some great players who are capable of putting up numbers anywhere.
So here is No. 10.
No. 10 — Nevada's frontcourt trio of forwards Olek Czyz, Dario Hunt and Malik Story. This is the only number that combines more than one player I promise. But Nevada has proven over time to be a quality program and it's fair to say one or all of these guys will produce for the Wolf Pack. Perhaps 10 will prove to be low as the season goes on, but the fact remains they are an unknown but there is a gaping hole left by the departure of Luke Babbitt, Armon Johnson, Brandon Fields and Joey Shaw.
Czyz is a 6-7 redshirt sophomore who left Duke to return to Reno, where he won two high school championships. Story is a 6-5 redshirt sophomore who played in 31 games on one year at Indiana where he averaged 6 ppg. Hunt is somewhat proven. 6-8 very athletic shot blocker was on the All-Defensive team last year and was third in the league with 1.94 blocks per game to go with 6.5 points and seven rebounds. We shall see if he has the offensive game to go with it as the Wolf Pack look to replace 64 points per game.
Look for No. 9 on Wednesday.
Question J. Groves...you said in your post that the top 3 rebounders are all gone. Wasn't Wen the leading rebounder in the WAC both of the last two years?
Axel. As you may recall, Wendell didn't play for the first half of the season last year. He did end up leading the WAC in rebounding but that was conference games only. I used overall stats for Ashaulu.
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