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August 23, 2012

Higher learning

AS GOOD AS ADVERTISED - The most decorated recruiting class at UNLV in the last two decades was all but certain to be very, very good. Nobody knew it would be this soon, though.

Competing without the highest ranked of the incoming freshmen, Anthony Bennett, the Runnin' Rebels got a glimpse of the future with Katin Reinhardt, Savon Goodman, DaQuan Cook and Demetris Morant all showing off a multitude of skills during the four-game event.

Just a few months removed from their high school graduations, this group shows the type of leadership and promise that UNLV hasn't seen in players this young for quite awhile.

It all started with Katin Reinhardt's 19 points in the tour's first game against Carleton University. Reinhardt showed a confident approach before injuring his knee in the second game and sitting out the remainder of the games.

Reinhardt came to UNLV known as an elite scorer and that mindset was apparent. He led the Rebels in shot attempts after the first two games, something that is unheard of given the amount of returning talent that UNLV possesses.

In the second game it was Goodman's turn. He notched a team-high 17 points against the University of Ottawa. It was one of three double-digit scoring efforts for Goodman, who came to the Rebels least known for his scoring prowess.

Cook and Morant both showed that they could handle the duties for which they were recruited. Cook's ability to find the open man and keep the offense flowing was outstanding. Morant didn't score many points but his potential was evident.

GRAB THE BOARD - UNLV's inability to rebound the basketball is still a major work in progress.

Sure, it could improve by leaps and bounds whenever Khem BIrch and Bennett are out on the hardwood but all we can go by is what we saw in Canada.

And that looked like a problem.

Carlos Lopez, who is battling for time at both forward and center, had a height advantage in every game but his highest output was only five rebounds.

'It may have been due to a lack of competition, but old reliable, Mike Moser, didn't secure any of his patented double-double's.

Quintrell Thomas did put up numbers in two games with nine rebounds in two different games. Unfortunately, he coupled those with one and three board performances.

Moser aside, Lopez and Thomas are battling for the minutes every chance they get to perform in front of head coach Dave Rice. It doesn't matter if it's practice, exhibitions, etc., they need to compete like their jobs are on the line.

And after four games, it didn't feel like either did enough to prove that they deserve the bulk of minutes in the paint until Birch arrives in December.

PROVING GROUND - It may have been the chance to get after an opponent in a real setting or just trying to put on a show, whatever the case, Bryce Dejean-Jones was the most productive Rebel in Canada.

Dejean-Jones brought his toughness and aggressive nature during all four games, amassing an average of 13.5 points and six boards a game. Those statistics were only outdone by senior Anthony Marshall, who nipped Dejean-Jones by .3 points a game.

There were an array of moves shown off by Dejean-Jones during the course of the trip. Fans got to see his bullish style of driving into the paint and forcing the contact to occur. They got to see his athleticism as he soared for dunks and alley-oops. Finally, he showed off his NBA-ready fadeaway that is going to be an unguardable shot in the Mountain West Conference.

Remember, Dejean-Jones was away from the court longer than most traditional transfers. He left the USC basketball team before the second semester began during his freshman year but remained on campus and finished his school year before making UNLV his destination. That's a full year and a half that he's been waiting to strut his stuff.

He didn't shoot the deep ball (26%) or free throws (52%) real well but the electric ability on the offensive end of the floor was apparent. Dejean-Jones can be as good as he wants to be.

For more in-depth information, be sure to check out Rebel-Confidential.




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