ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas says former Nevada forward Jordan Caroline has a future in the NBA. He also offered his views on Cody and Caleb Martin, who are in the Charlotte Hornets summer camp, and on the Wolf Pack’s new and former coaches, Steve Alford and Eric Musselman.
Bilas is competing in the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. A native of Los Angeles, he said this is his first time at Lake Tahoe since he was a child. A four-year starting center at Duke, Bilas has been a courtside and studio commentator since 1995.
Caroline averaged 17 points and 9.6 rebounds for Nevada last season His 45 career double-doubles are the most in Mountain West Conference history. But at 6-foot-5 he’s undersized as an NBA power forward. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Los Angeles Lakers. He scored 27 points in a recent summer league game vs. the Golden State Warriors.
“It’s not a surprise he’s having success in summer league but he’s going to have to find a way to blend in to where he can be a productive member of the big squad,” Bilas told Tahoe Onstage. “He’s a mature, older guy playing mostly against college guys and rookies. He was in college for five years. If he doesn’t stick with the (Lakers), he can find somewhere else. It’s not a one-shot deal.
“Everyone knows he’s a capable player who can play in the NBA. But the league is different now. At 6-5, he’s basically a 3 or 4 (position) man. He’s going to have to step away and shoot it a little better. But he knows how to play. He’s strong. He gets to the basket. He uses his body really well and can draw fouls and gets to the free throw line.”
Bias said Caroline might follow a similar path to the Lakers Quinn Cook, who was undrafted out of Duke. He developed his game in the G league before contributing to the Warriors title run in 2018.
“When he had to go for money reasons,” Bilas said, “he was coveted by the Lakers right away. There will be a spot for Caroline (someday) in the league.”
Cody and Caleb Martin are competing to be a second set of twins in the NBA. Veterans Markieff Morris is on the Pistons and Marcus Morris signed a one-year contract Thursday with the Knicks.
The Martins are from Mocksville, N.C., and they played at North Carolina State before transferring to Nevada, where they led the Wolf Pack to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Cody was drafted 36th overall and Caleb was signed as an undrafted free agent. For now, they are playing for their home state’s Charlotte Hornets.
“It’s great but I don’t know if they will be able to play together for much longer,” Bilas said.
“Cody is the more versatile of the two. I think he’s coming into the NBA because at 6-7 he can play the point. He can initiate offense, he can dribble, he’s a really good passer and he’s a sneaky scorer. He’s a better scorer than people give him credit for. Caleb is more of the shooter-scorer type. But both are really good players.”
The Wolf Pack are in good hands with former UCLA coach Steve Alford, Bilas said.
“Steve’s a great choice for Nevada,” he said. “He’s been an outstanding coach. Everybody knows what a great player he was. He’s a great guy and he’s done such a good job everywhere he’s been. I think this will be a stop very similar to the stop he had in New Mexico, where he did an excellent job. He understands the league, he understands the landscape and I think he’ll do really well with it.”
Eric Musselman, who coached four years at Nevada, faces a greater challenge, he said.
“Nobody’s going to win in a Power 5 conference without players,” Bilas said. “It doesn’t matter whether they’re transfers or high school players. Transfers you have older experienced guys and it worked out well in Nevada. I don’t know if that way of doing it is the exact right model for Arkansas, but no matter where you get them, you have to have players. And that’s not unique to Eric’s situation. That’s everybody. You can lose with good players, you can’t win without them.
“Arkansas hasn’t been really good in a while. It’s not looked upon right now as a destination, but good coaches build good places into destinations. But an 18-year-old kid doesn’t remember Sidney Moncrief. He doesn’t remember the teams Nolan Richardson had in the early 1990s with Corliss Williamson and Scotty Thurman. They’ve got to rebuild.”
Bilas also provided micro analysis of the golf tournament. A 100-1 longshot, he said bettors should bet on himself – if they want to lose money.
Wolf Pack notes: Nevada’s first four games will be at home, including the Pac-12’s Utah on Nov. 5 and USC on Nov. 16. … It plays a non-conference game against St. Mary’s in the new home of the Golden State Warriors, the Chase Center. … “I’ve been very encouraged by how our young men have approached their summer workouts,” Alford said in a press statement. We are anxious to build our culture and put a product on the court that our fans are proud to support.” … There are nine players on the Wolf Pack’s roster. Guards Lindsey Drew, Jazz Johnson, Nisre Zouzoua, Jalen Harris and forward K.J. Hymes will return. Swingman Jalen Townsell is in the NCAA transfer portal. Alford has recruited 6-9 power forward Zane Meeks from Brewster Academy in New Hampshire and Kane Milling, an 6-4 combo guard from Espoirsli Linoges, France. Forward Warren Washington, a transfer from Oregon State, must sit out a season.