After hosting Mercer in their home opener, Seton Hall will travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands to compete in the 2014 Paradise Jam. The Nevada Wolf Pack out of the Mountain West Conference will meet the Pirates in the first round, a match-up that was set in May.
Nevada's clash with Seton Hall comes a year late for the Wolf Pack, having lost their three leading scorers from a 15-17 (10-8) 2013-14 season that ended in the first round of the Mountain West Conference tournament. Lead guard Deonte Burton (20.1 ppg, 4.4 apg, 4.3 rpg) wasn't selected in the 2014 NBA Draft but has played with the Wizards summer league team, while forward Cole Huff (12.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg) decided to transfer to Creighton, and Jerry Evans Jr. (12.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg) graduated.
Roster subtractions: Deonte Burton (20.1 ppg, 4.4 apg, 4.3 rpg), Cole Huff (12.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Jerry Evans Jr. (12.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Cheikh Alioune Fall (2.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
Returnees to watch: guard Michael Perez (11.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.1 apg), forward/center A.J. West (6.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.3 bpg), guard Marqueze Coleman (6 ppg, 2.1 rpg), forward Ronnie Stevens Jr. (3.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
Key additions: JuCo forward Kaileb Rodriguez (Sheridan College, Wyo.), JuCo shooting guard Tyron Criswell (Central CC, Neb.), guard Eric Cooper Jr. (IMG Academy, Fla.)
Head coach David Carter looks to be the first coach in our preview series that might benefit a lot from his incoming recruiting class. Currently sitting six-deep, including two junior college players and an Arizona de-commit, Nevada's class will need to help make up for the talent lost from last season's team.
Forward Kaileb Rodriguez was originally redshirted at California before going the junior college route prior to Nevada, while incoming freshman Eric Cooper Jr. was committed to Arizona prior to taking a prep year and reclassifying to the class of 2014. Both recruits will likely supplement returnees Michael Perez (guard), a one-time UTEP player, and power forward A.J. West (teammates with Stephane Manga at Monroe College) in David Carter's rotation. In addition, Division-2 junior college player of the year Tyron Criswell, who had a final three that also included Nebraska and Auburn, will bolster Nevada's backcourt as a shooting guard. Nevada's season may depend on how last season's mainstays Burton and Evans Jr. will be replaced at guard, the former of which was a main reason why the Wolf Pack had the 26th best turnover percentage in the country last season.
Nevada finished with decent numbers (137 RPI, 146 KenPom) last season, but the three big reasons for that have all left the Wolf Pack roster. Unlike Mercer, however, it looks like Nevada has a chance to replace lost talent through effective recruiting.
Still, this influx of five new players may not gel until league play, making a 175-250 RPI finish a likely scenario for Nevada, and with it, a very manageable (and important) first round Paradise Jam match-up for Kevin Willard and Seton Hall.
This was part two of the non-conference portion of the 2014-15 Seton Hall Basketball Preview Series. Next Monday, Seton Hall's potential second round Paradise Jam opponents, Gardner-Webb and Clemson, will be previewed, followed by the rest of the field the Monday after.