After failing to make the NCAA Tournament since joining the Mountain West, Nevada finally broke through and earned a bid. Eric Musselman had one of the most talented rosters across the mid-major landscape, but Cameron Oliver was the focal point.
The sophomore big man provided an athletic rim protector that could also stretch the floor on offense. His impact on both ends was a major reason that the Wolf Pack went 28-7 and won the Mountain West.
After his strong sophomore campaign, Oliver declared for the NBA Draft and eventually signed with an agent. He doesn’t have the hype of a 1st round pick or a star from a Power 5 school, but Oliver has skills that can help a NBA team.
Oliver’s biggest strength is his potential to be an elite rim protector. In both of his college seasons, he averaged 2.6 blocks per game thanks in part to his athleticism and length. He measured a 39.5” max vertical leap at the NBA Draft Combine, which was the 8th highest of the prospects in attendance. His wingspan measured in at 7’1.25”, which is another impressive mark that should get the attention of front offices.
Another part of his game that helped him develop into a legitimate prospect was the development of a consistent jump shot. Oliver shot 38.4 percent from behind the arc on nearly five attempts per game, so there’s enough of a sample size there to show that it isn’t a fluke.
His biggest strength, however, is that he’s simply a physical beast. He’s shorter than most centers, but with a chiseled frame and freak athleticism, he’s able to bang in the post and finish above the rim with ease. His frame allows him to absorb contact around the hoop, and he should be able to rebound very well at the next level. Kenneth Faried, who is another former mid-major star, is a pretty good comparison in terms of size and ability.
The biggest knock against Oliver is probably going to be his height. At only 6’8.25”, Oliver is undersized for both the four and five positions. He will have to find ways to combat guys that are bigger than him and those who can match him athletically.
His offensive game is still developing, and there’s a lot to like, but Oliver still has a ways to go to polish his repertoire. He occasionally forces up bad shots early in the shot clock, and can fall victim to tunnel vision at times. He will need to improve his shot selection and awareness if he wants to earn a coaches trust.
Lastly, Oliver is very limited in terms of perimeter skills outside of jump shooting. He wasn’t asked to create for others, and seldom handled the ball outside of more than a dribble or two. If he’s asked to play one of the forward positions, he will likely have to be able to develop some sort of ability to create or at least be able to handle the ball consistently.
The most likely landing spot for Oliver is probably in the mid-to-late second round. A guy with his physical tools and potential is worth taking a chance on in the second round when teams are searching for rotation guys.