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UNLV Coach Dave Rice Prefers Strong Recruiting Over Transfers

UNLV continues to be a major player on the recruiting scene despite lacking an NCAA Tournament appearance in back-to-back seasons. On Wednesday, head coach Dave Rice reeled in another big-time recruit in four-star point guard Jaylen Fisher.

It is the fourth commitment for Rice and UNLV in the 2016 class. But as the current Runnin’ Rebel roster stands, there are only two available scholarships for next season, as seniors Jermoe Seagers and Ike Nwamu will run out of eligibility.

Rice likely isn’t done adding to the 11th best 2016 class, as UNLV is among the final three choices for five-star guard Kobi Simmons, who hasn’t lost any interest in coming to Las Vegas since Fisher’s announcement.

That’s over recruiting, but it’s not a poor display of a trust or commitment by a head coach. It’s smart; it is fighting the impact of the transfer rate in college hoops. There are currently over 600 players that have transferred this year, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. Last year there were over 700 transfers, meaning each team should expect to lose two players to transfer in a season.

UNLV had Kendall Smith and Dantley Walker transfer out of the program in the last 12 months. Bryce Dejean-Jones, Deville Smith and Jamal Aytes all transferred. Add to that Roscoe Smith, Khem Birch, Chris Wood and Rashad Vaughn all leaving school early to play pro basketball, and Dave Rice typically loses a lot more than just his seniors.

Looking past the 2015-16 season, UNLV could have another one and done in Stephen Zimmerman, but he is the only Rebel with any draft prospects right now. That would still leave UNLV with one more commitment than scholarships available. This over recruiting could have been slightly alleviated if UNLV had not landed big man Chris Obekpa late in the summer. The former St. John’s shot blocking expert took up UNLV last scholarship for 2015-16, one that could have gone to Justin Jackson had he reclassified into the class of 2015.

Jackson will stay in the class of 2016 and play at Findlay Prep in nearby Henderson, Nevada this year. Obekpa will sit out this season and have one year of eligibility remaining for the 2016-17 season.

More than likely UNLV will have multiple players transfer out after – or even during – this season. Dave Rice has been talking about pressing and running for the past couple of weeks. It has been the focus of UNLV’s practices so far.

Rice wants his guys to give maximum effort and play until they are exhausted even if it is only for a few minutes at a time. It’s a strategy that might not work if Rice doesn’t have enough players capable of creating good shots or defending the length of the court. But Rice thinks he has the depth, and that would mean UNLV would go deep into its bench each game. That might be the only way to keep everyone on the roster happy with playing time.

UNLV has three point guards in Jerome Seagers, Daquan Cook and Jalen Poyser. It’s hard to imagine all three getting the playing time they want. On the wing (and the small lineup power forward) UNLV is loaded. Pat McCaw, Ike Nwamu, Jordan Cornish, Dwayne Morgan, Derrick Jones and Tyrell Green could all expect significant minutes. If UNLV runs to exhaustion then brings in the reinforcements or if Rice plays enough small ball, those six could all get playing time to keep them placated. But more than likely someone is going to be the odd man out.

The only area that UNLV isn’t overstocked is in the post. Goodluck Okonoboh will be the starting center protecting the rim, while freshman Zimmerman will likely start next to him at power forward. That leaves Ben Carter off the bench to back up both players and provide a rebounding boost. All three players seems to have a defined role.

It’s certainly not a perfect situation, but in 2015 if you aren’t over recruiting in college basketball, you are likely hurting your future.

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