College Basketball Nation: Malik Story

Nevada draws 'Fab Five' comparison

October, 18, 2011
Nevada Tuesday was named the popular pick among WAC coaches to unseat perennial conference champion Utah State this season, as the Wolf Pack topped the preseason poll.

Reigning WAC freshman of the year Deonte Burton was selected as preseason player of the year, and the point guard is the headliner for an entire starting lineup that returns this season.

The inexperienced team that was filled with newcomers last season went 13-19 and is now looking strong with former Indiana Hoosier Malik Story leading in scoring and former Duke Blue Devil Olek Czyz also providing a veteran presence. Senior Dario Hunt nearly averaged a double-double.

"Toward the end of last year, I thought we peaked," coach David Carter said. "You have to look forward to moving on to this year. I do think with experience that they gained, it's going to help them in the long run."

Another factor is the team chemistry. According to the Nevada Sagebrush, Burton and three others in the sophomore class -- Jordan Burris, Jordan Finn and Kevin Panzer -- have taken to calling themselves the Fab Four.
"I watched the (ESPN 30 for 30) documentary of the Fab Five over summer … it reminded me a lot of us, and so now we call ourselves the Fab Four," Burton said. "The Fab Five had an awesome record, and we just try to look at that as motivation."

With the Wolf Pack's 13-19 record last season (the first losing season for the team since 2000-01), the team has a lot of ground to gain if it wants to be remembered similar to the Fab Five.

Nevada basketball head coach David Carter found the comparison somewhat humorous.

"Those four are very close on and off the court," Carter said with a giggle. "That's a unique thing and they'll be friends for life. But shoot, compared to the Fab Five -- we're not even close [in terms of performance]."

The starting lineup Nevada returns isn't quite the Fab Five either, but it could very well be the group that carries the Wolf Pack to a WAC championship.

Not everyone is so sure Utah State is in for a rebuilding year, though. The media picked the Aggies to successfully defend their title and Nevada to finish second. Carter appreciated the respect from his fellow coaches, but knows his team still has to prove it.

"That's on paper," he said of being the preseason favorite. "You have to go out and play the games."

Nevada adds to collection of new faces

July, 19, 2010
Nevada might not have the big-name players next season after Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson were selected in the NBA draft, but coach David Carter has an exceptionally large number of new faces that could fill the void.

The latest candidate is Devonte Elliott, a power forward who signed a national letter of intent with the program way back in November 2008 but has finally been cleared academically by the NCAA to play, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. The paper also recently reported that Elliott has grown an inch to 6-foot-10.

"Devonte is a talented, versatile player who can do a lot of things on the court and should help us immediately," Carter said in a statement.

Ellott becomes the second Southern California recruit from that class to recently gain eligibility, as freshman guard Jerry Evans didn't enroll in school until January and gain NCAA clearance until March.

Nevada also will have two high-major transfers available next season with guard Malik Story from Indiana and former Duke forward Olek Czyz expected to be available midseason.

Oh, and then to top it all off, the Wolf Pack has a six-player recruiting class coming into the program headlined by Deonte Burton, ESPNU's No. 44-ranked shooting guard.

What's next for Nevada?

April, 27, 2010
Losing both Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson to the NBA draft was not completely unexpected, but it dealt a huge blow to the Nevada Wolf Pack's chances in the WAC next season.

To the point at least one newspaper writer begged for their return, and with good reason if you're a fan of the Wolf Pack.

But not all is lost for coach David Carter despite his top returning player being fifth-leading scorer Dario Hunt, a sophomore who averaged 6.5 points.

The day after Babbitt announced he would hire an agent, Carter signed guard Deonte Burton from Compton, Calif. to headline a recruiting class that includes guards Jordan Burris, Derrell Conner, Jordan Finn, and 6-foot-11 Australian junior college transfer Illiwa Baldwin to play center.

Guard Malik Story should be ready to step in after transferring from Indiana, forward Olek Czyz is expected to become eligible midseason after having left Duke, and the NCAA has finally cleared freshman guard Jerry Evans to play.

It's a new crop of players that certainly has big shoes to fill.