streaking ascent to the Sweet Sixteen out of a 10-seed (they defeated Michigan State
before falling to eventual national runner-up Georgia Tech
), they lost their coach (Trent Johnson) to Stanford
and their top scorer (Kirk Snyder) to the NBA. Most preseason publications had them contending, but not winning, a tough Western Athletic Conference. They only offered superlatives-in-passing for a tall lanky white guy who made the WAC All-Newcomer team and set a school record for freshmen with 429 points, even as they wondered where Snyder's missing production would come from.
"Player-of-the-year talent," said The Sporting News
. "On his way to becoming a dominating player in this league," Athlon Sports
chimed in. Well, it looks like the future may be now - Nick Fazekas is our fifteenth Mid-Majority Baller of The Week.
Fazekas is a 6'11", 225-pound sophomore forward and co-captain of the Wolfpack. Despite his tall stature, he can play on the perimeter, and has guard-like dribbling and shooting capabilities. Despite his appearance, he can take a post pounding as well - he shoots for a high percentage and certainly gets his fair share of rebounds. During Saturday's Bracket Buster showdown with fellow mid-major poster boy Taylor Coppenrath and Vermont
, Fazekas threw down for 31 points and snagged 14 rebounds as his team prevailed 74-64 - insodoing, Nevada inched closer to a bulletproof NCAA Tournament profile. On Wednesday, his team-high 19 points and 10 rebounds helped bury the Rice
Owls 73-58 in a key WAC contest at the Pack's Lawlor Events Center.
Nick's game-by-game chart reads like one big MMBOY resumé. He's averaging 21 points a game, and has not been held to single digits all year. He has a remarkable ten double-doubles, and a growing list of monster WAC games: 21 and 18 against Louisiana Tech
on January 6, and 29 and 12 a week later in a pivotal contest against Texas-El Paso
. He's averaging a double-double in January (22 and 11) and February (23 and 10). He also shoots 79% from the line, so opponents usually need to find someone else to foul down the stretch.
The 19-year-old Mr. Fazekas, who doesn't have a major yet, hails from Arvada, Colorado and attended Ralston Valley High. While leading the RVH hoopers to a 63-12 record, he lettered three times and was named Mr. Basketball at the 4A level in 2002. He spent last summer touring China with the NIT All-Stars, and he scored 10 points a game against wannabe Yao Mings. According to his bio
on the Nevada website, he hopes to surf someday. A gangly guy almost seven feet tall, hanging ten? Now that ESPN has made Nick a TV star, maybe he'd settle for wobbling around in front of a blue-screen, like in those old Elvis movies.