Mitch Moss: Bishop Gorman, Bryce Harper And UNR's NBA Prospects
Two former University of Nevada-Reno basketball players are making their pitch to become players in the NBA.
If they make it - Cam Oliver and D.J. Fenner - might join the likes of UNLV basketball luminaries, Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon. Mitch Moss, of the Vegas Stats and Information Network, says the two are good players who might just have what it takes.
Meanwhile, the domestic violence case against Kenny Sanchez, the wildly successful coach of Bishop Gorman High School's nationally recognized football program, went nowhere. His former fiancee recanted her story and Sanchez was acquitted of all charges.
But does Bishop Gorman, a national powerhouse, keep chugging along? Moss says the football program there is set up to do just that. He also delves into the question that has been asked for a long time in Nevada: should Bishop Gorman, a private school, be allowed to compete for state championships against the state's public schools?
And Bryce Harper, a product of Las Vegas' public school system, is a star professional baseballer with Washington Nationals. And for the first time, he was recently involved in a bench-clearing brawl after being hit by a 98 mph pitch. Moss talks about Harper's brash image but how he's been supported by sports pundits and fans who are tired of pitchers who retaliate by hitting batters with pitches.
Las Vegas native and Washington National’s slugger Bryce Harper was at the center of a brawl the other day. Is that typical of Harper?
“He doesn’t get into fights or face suspensions from Major League Baseball… He came into baseball with kind of a target on this back because he was cocky. He wore the eye black all over his face. He was on the cover of SI when he was 16 years old. SI called him at the time ‘the chosen one.’ So, when you come in with that reputation I think other players are going to have it in for you naturally.
I think he’s kind of abrasive. He’s the kind of guy you want on your team. You don’t want to play against him if you know what I mean.
When you know the history between these two guys, fans are going to be different on this than the media. But a lot of former baseball players who are now in the media thought it was refreshing and did not blame Harper at all.
It goes back to Hunter Strickland who beaned him at 98 miles an hour. It goes back to Harper hitting two homeruns off him in the 2014 post season and to think about Strickland remembering that three years later. And he threw that at 98 miles an hour right at his hip. That’s a spot where as a batter where you cannot get away from it whatsoever… So that was 100 percent intentional.
If you notice Buster Posey, the catcher of the Giants, he never even tried to stop Harper. Bruce Bochy said Strickland was out of line for doing that.
How is Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who is also from Las Vegas, doing?
He’s off to a decent start. I think the problem with Bryant is that the Cubs, to call them a sinking ship right now I think is a little strong, but they were just swept by the Padres. And the Padres are arguably the worst team in baseball. They have many problems. The world champions, to finally get that curse lifted off their back last year after 108 years. They haven’t lived up to that even remotely close this year.
They’ve been struggling across the board from hitting to starting pitching. Bryant is off to a decent start individually.
Who are the UNR guys and could they be good enough.
I was looking at mock drafts and I did notice that Cam Oliver was pegged to go somewhere middle to late second round. I didn’t see D.J. Fenner getting drafted at all. But that can be a good thing because as a free agent you can find the team that fits the way you play the best, and then have a workout with them and maybe sign on with them.
If Cam can get drafted and go to the right spot, there’s a chance he can end playing sooner than later like former UNLV player Patrick McCaw did with the Golden State Warriors.
How important is the athletic director job to creating a successful sports program?
I think an AD can be ultra important. When people look at the state that UNLV is in right now… when you look at the previous regime. I know countless people who point the finger at Tina Kunzer-Murphy. They believe she is the single reason why UNLV athletics turned out to be in a bad spot in the two main sports – men’s basketball and football.
Bishop Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez was found not guilty in a domestic violence case. Does a case like that hurt a powerhouse football program like Bishop Gorman?
Bishop Gorman reinstated him. It might have impacted the program for a minute or two. Not for very long term. I think it is a machine. The program is so embedded now, not just in Southern Nevada but nationally. Once the football season gets here it will be time to rekindle it maybe in week one. I think it dies down pretty much after that.
This has been a question for many years: Should Bishop Gorman compete against other public schools in state championships?
There are people on both sides of the ledger on this one… Bishop Gorman football has been so good, basketball has come back to the pack a little bit – but they keep winning – but I think the competition there is actually better.
But as the gap between Bishop Gorman and every other school continues to grow I think people are going to continue to say, ‘this is nonsense. You can’t play against other teams that are public schools here in Southern Nevada, in Nevada in general….’ To me, it does feel completely unfair.
Mitch Moss, host, VSIN/Vegas Sports Information Network