Basketball: Carter set to sign replacement point guard

The Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball team won't be without a starting point guard for long.

 Pack head coach David Carter said Monday that he hopes to sign a point guard "in the next day or two" and then add another "sometime next week."

 "We've been recruiting point guards for some time," Carter said. "We anticipated this is something we might have to do."

 The Wolf Pack found itself without a starting point guard on its roster when starter Armon Johnson announced Friday that he would leave school after his junior year to enter the National Basketball Association draft.

 The only point guards currently on the roster are backups London Giles and Keith Fuetsch. Giles played in just 28 of the Pack's 34 games a year ago and saw action for just 150 minutes. Fuetsch played just 36 minutes in nine appearances all season.

 "No, I wasn't shocked when I found out Armon was leaving," said Carter, who led the Pack to a 21-13 record and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament in his first year as head coach. "Before the season started we knew this could happen."

 Carter said Johnson became a legitimate candidate for this June's draft when he and teammate Luke Babbitt participated in a summer camp conducted by Nike in San Diego before the start of the 2009-10 season.

 "Luke already had the buzz around him but it was during that camp when Armon picked up the buzz," Carter said. "That's when we knew we had to start recruiting point guards just in case."

 Carter said he would like to add two guards in the next two weeks to compete with Giles and Fuetsch for the starting job in 2010-11.

 "We should be able to announce a signing in the next day or two," Carter said. "We prepared for this situation."

 The Wolf Pack is set at shooting guard and small forward with Patrick Nyeko, Malik Story, Jerry Evans and signee Jordan Burris. They are also overloaded with power forwards and centers with Babbitt, Dario Hunt, Olek Czyz, Marko Cukic, Keith Olson and Adam Carp.

 Carp, though, who has played just 74 minutes over the last three season, will be the only senior on the roster.

 The Pack has lost three starters (Johnson, Brandon Fields and Joey Shaw) and its top reserve (Ray Kraemer) off last year's team. The four players combined for 103 starts, 3,970 minutes, 46.7 points, 14.7 rebounds and 10.1 assists each game a year ago. The four also combined for 12 years of experience in a Wolf Pack uniform.

 "When you look at college basketball these days, there are not a lot of teams with a bunch of seniors anymore," Carter said. "Our players are more experienced than they look on paper. A few of our guys have used red-shirt years. So we'll be OK. You very rarely get a senior-oriented team anymore."

 Johnson will likely be the toughest to replace. The three-time All-Western Athletic Conference player finished his Pack career in ninth place in points scored (1,441) and fourth in assists (445) in school history.

 "Armon had a solid year," Carter said. "Armon did exactly what I wanted him to do and that was to get other players involved. I thought he really grew as a point guard this year."

 Carter said Johnson should be commended for what he accomplished in a Wolf Pack uniform.

 "It was a tough transition for him from high school (Hug High) to college," Carter said. "He had to go from a guy who went out and scored 25 points a game to a guy who had to pass the ball and get his teammates involved and be a guy who picked his spots to score. That first year he was our third or fourth option on offense. That's tough for a young man to do."

 Carter said he hopes his next point guard also has the ability to put the ball in the basket.

 "I like point guards who can score," Carter said. "It just gives you another guy you can go to. I know when we played teams who had point guards who didn't score, we didn't even guard them.

 "The game has changed. You have to have a point guard who can also score. I know when I played point guard (at Saint Mary's in the late 1980s) they had to beg me to shoot the ball. But the game was different then."

 Carter said Story, a 6-foot-5 athletic shooting guard, also has the skills to bring the ball up the court. Story sat out last season after transferring to Nevada from Indiana, where he averaged 6.0 points a game in the 2008-09 season.

 "Malik handles it very well and he can pass," Carter said. "He could be that third point guard on the roster."

 Despite all the changes, Carter said next year's team will be deeper.

 "Very much so," he said. "It will be a fun team to watch. We'll be more athletic and versatile and we'll be able to be better defense. You'll see us play more man-to-man this year, pressure teams more. We really couldn't do that this year."

 Carter added that next year's team will also run more on offense.

 "We couldn't really do that this year also," Carter said. "We'll play faster next year. This last year we definitely didn't play the way I would like us to."

 Carter said he isn't sure where or if Johnson will be drafted in June. The Pack head coach added that Ramon Sessions, who also left the Pack for the NBA after his junior year in 2007, was ahead of Johnson as far as pure point guard skills are concerned coming out of college.

 "From the people I've talked to, he's (Johnson) kind of all over the board," Carter said. "So I really don't know. I think a lot of it will depend on his workouts (for NBA teams). But I know they all are intrigued by his size, his scoring ability and his athletic ability."

 The Pack could also lose Babbitt in this year's NBA draft. Babbitt has until May 8 to make his decision on whether to return for his junior year or enter the draft. He will also work out for NBA teams later this month.

 "I think Luke is on the fence right now," Carter said. "I know he's intrigued by the NBA and, from what I gather, he'd be a first round pick."


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