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November 14, 2012He was the first recruit to buy into what UNLV head coach Dave Rice was preaching and on Wednesday Chris Wood officially became a Runnin' Rebel.
It was back in July of 2011 when Wood, a relative unknown at that time at the age of just 15, decided to become the player that helped revolutionize UNLV's recruiting. He was a year and a half away from actually writing his name on a National Letter of Intent but he knew he had made the right decision then.
"It feels great. I'm glad to be a part of the family. I'm very excited to finally get it over with," Wood said today in the Henderson International gymnasium where his Findlay Prep Pilots compete.
Arriving at Findlay from Palmdale, CA, Wood had potential dripping off his slight frame of 6-foot-8, 185-pounds. Now in his senior season, Wood is 6-10 and 215 as a starter for the Pilots.
He has skyrocketed up the charts on the national rankings, as well. Wood was a three-star when Rice noticed him after a sparkling performance a Nike Elite 100 Camp.
Rice knew he had seen a gem and offered Wood soon after. And it was the way that Rice spoke with Wood that impressed the youngster from just outside of Los Angeles. There was plenty of opportunity for Wood to rethink his commitment to the Rebels but he never wavered after forming that connection with Rice.
Wood said, "It was the way he talked to me. I've talked to other college coaches but I felt something different when he talked to me. I felt like as soon as I get to UNLV I would have a spot.
"I love the coaches. Since I took my unofficial visit, I think we connected and we had a bond. That's what kept me strong and staying with (UNLV)." Despite his No. 36 ranking nationally in his class, it's still Wood's unlimited potential that has coaches raving about what he ultimately could become.
Built in a similar mold as NBA All-Star Kevin Durant, Wood has a deadly outside jump shot to go along with a solid mid-range game. He's a standout on the defensive end, too, as he is on pace this season to break the Findlay Prep season block total record. He is currently averaging over three per game.
The one drawback to Wood's game over the past two years has been his lax attitude at times when going for rebounds. This is an area that Wood said he has been addressing ever since the LeBron James Skills Camp this past summer in Las Vegas.
You could call Wood a trendsetter for his decision for being able to see Rice's vision of UNLV before anyone else. Oh, and you can also call him a Rebel.