Shabazz Muhammad, Demetris Morant, Rosco Allen, and Ben Carter have all left the Bishop Gorman Basketball stable and passed the torch to younger, up and coming players.
With a legacy of championship basketball as added pressure, the Gaels have yet to be affected with a 6-0 start.
Tuesday night, the Gaels dominated Cimarron Memorial, 78-61, at the "House of Glory".
"The season's been okay so far," head coach Grant Rice stated. "We have a lot of new faces and young guys coming up. We're off to a decent start so far and I like where we are at."
Starting last year, Coach Rice used part of his older brother's (UNLV head coach David Rice) philosophy - along with high quality players - to dominate the local prep scene. Most of the plays he runs are UNLV Runnin' Rebel oriented and it proves to be a great plan for him and his team because there is one thing that he and his players love to do on the court: Run.
"They've done a good job," says Rice, regarding his new players adjusting to the Rebel playing style. "We've done a lot of work in the spring, and in the summer, and in the fall. It's still a work in progress, but we will continue to get better."
Junior point guard Noah Robotham dropped in a game-high 19 points and seven assists in last night's contest. Robotham has matured into the true point guard that Bishop Gorman has always needed. His understanding of the game has improved and his work ethic keeps him growing as a player. His skill has improved greatly from last year, and he doesn't rely on outside shooting alone. His willingness to drive the ball has opened things up for the Gaels. His ball-handling and passing have improved to the point where turnovers are a rarity.
Robotham has become fearless, poised, confident, and has accepted the role as the leader of this basketball squad.
"They're pretty much the same to be honest," Robotham states regarding the style of play and how it differs between last year and this year. "Last year was more about running up and down. This year is more about giving the post, and working off Zimm (Stephen Zimmerman) and Jeter (Chase Jeter)."
One new UNLV recruit has a name that might sound familiar to most fans. His name is Chase Jeter, a sophomore forward. His father, Chris, played on the 1990 National Championship team along with Dave Rice, Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony, and Moses Scurry.
"My dad's been a great role model with the way he handles things and the way he tells me to handle things," Jeter stated. "As far as recruiting goes, he always tells me to take my time. He's always there to help me."
Jeter has a high ceiling as a big man. He's tall, and can occupy the paint better than most big men at the high school level. He is notorious for steals and blocked shots. He plays aggressive, but always maintains his composure throughout the game. He is humble, but explosive at the same time.
Having endured a tremendous growth spurt, Jeter has maintained guard skills while adjusting to the post. He has all the tools to become a high Division I player, even though this is his first year on the varsity squad.
A coachable player, he is willing to learn from the other experienced players and is always open to adjustments.
"I like it a lot," Jeter replies when it comes to the new style of play. "We're a very fast-paced team. That's one of the things I like because it allows me to run the floor more. That fits me very well. I think my strengths are my post moves and my defense. My weakness is offensive rebounding. That's about it."
Gorman's most well-known player, Stephen Zimmerman, registered a big numbers even though he logged only 18 minutes. The talented big man dropped in 14 points to go with 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Zimmerman continues to develop into a more complete player. He has gained strength and weight while becoming more flexible in the paint. His versatility allows him to play on the perimeter and in the post. He has become more aggressive and powerful and can intimidate in the defensive post.
The hot start puts the Gaels in great position, but a tough road lies ahead, beginning this week.
"We've got a tough stretch ahead with the Tarkanian Classic, going to Myrtle Beach after Christmas, with Findlay Prep, and some other tough games on the schedule," coach Rice spoke of the remaining schedule. "We've also got some good teams in Vegas such as Centennial, having to play them twice in league and possibly in the playoffs. It will be tough, but our guys are going to keep working at it."
There are plenty of opportunities left to watch Bishop Gorman in action this season. On December 19th-22nd, catch the Gaels on their home court for the Tarkanian Classic. On January 7th, the annual Big City Showcase between Bishop Gorman and current National Champion, Findlay Prep, will take place at UNLV's Cox Pavilion.