Less than one hour before Wednesday night’s deadline for prospects to withdraw from the NBA draft, Nevada fans were still frantically refreshing their social media timelines to find out whether two of the Wolf Pack’s best players would return for their senior seasons.
Turns out the Martin twins’ decision was worth the delay.
Caleb and Cody Martin waited until almost 11:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday night before announcing they intend to withdraw from the draft and play one last season together at Nevada. Their return cements the Wolf Pack as a preseason top 10 team and ramps up the buzz for what was already indisputably the most anticipated basketball season in school history.
Nevada now brings back five of its seven rotation players from last season’s team that won a school-record 29 games, captured the Mountain West title and advanced to the Sweet 16. The Wolf Pack also add the second McDonald’s All-American in program history and a slew of accomplished transfers who should provide the depth coach Eric Musselman lacked a year ago.
While Nevada would have been the favorite to win the Mountain West even if the Martins had stayed in the draft, the Wolf Pack are undeniably more formidable with the twins back as seniors.
Caleb, a dynamic scorer and lethal outside shooter, earned Mountain West player of the year honors last March after averaging 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. Cody, an elite defender who impacts the game in more ways than his brother, averaged 14 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.5 blocks.
It was uncertain whether the Martins would return to Nevada right up until the final hour before Wednesday’s draft deadline. On one hand, both were among the players invited to the NBA draft combine. On the other hand, neither distinguished themselves there. On one hand, both had a chance to be selected in the second round of this year’s draft. On the other hand, next year’s draft is considerably weaker than this year’s and returning offers a chance to improve their stock.
Ultimately, the twins’ stock wasn’t high enough for them to pass up the chance to play together again and to be part of what should be an unbelievable season at Nevada.
The Martin twins will highlight a backcourt that also includes three-year starting point guard Lindsay Drew and transfers Jazz Johnson (Portland), Nisre Zouzoua (Bryant) and Corey Henson (Wagner). Cody Martin could start at point guard with Johnson backing him up if Drew needs more time to recover from a torn Achilles and opts to redshirt.
The frontcourt should also be an embarrassment of riches with all-league standout Jordan Caroline capable of playing either forward spot and heralded freshman Jordan Brown and Old Dominion transfer Trey Porter serving as the top big men. NCAA tournament hero Josh Hall should push for minutes, as should Omaha transfer Tre’Shawn Thurman.
Maybe the only issue for Nevada is a quintessential first-world problem in college basketball: The Wolf Pack have too many scholarship players on their roster. They prepared for the scenario that the Martin twins might leave, so now Musselman will have to jettison two players before the start of the season.
The grimy side of the business of college basketball certainly did not dampen enthusiasm in Reno on Wednesday night. Check out this video of Musselman revealing to a group of Nevada supporters that the Martins were coming back.
Nevada has reason to be excited given its ascendance under Musselman.
When Musselman arrived three years ago, the Wolf Pack were one month removed from a dismal 9-22 season. Now they’re coming off a 29-win season and have the ingredients to surpass that next winter.
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