Fast-rising 2013 point guard Kendall Smith committed to UNLV on Friday while on his official visit, giving the Rebels another key backcourt piece for the post-Anthony Marshall era.
Smith is a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, and he’s currently averaging 22.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game for Deer Valley (Calif.).
He was planning to take visits to his other two finalists, UConn and UCLA, but after attending Thursday’s win over Chicago State, Smith decided he had seen enough.
“The atmosphere is tremendous,” Smith said after taking in UNLV’s victory at the Thomas and Mack Center. “I’ve never been in an atmosphere like this. With the fans they have here, and coach Rice’s system being such a good fit for me, it’s really just a good situation.”
Smith made the announcement via Twitter on Friday morning.
So what does Smith’s commitment mean for UNLV? Here are some key takeaways:
Answer at point guard?
Anthony Marshall leads UNLV in minutes, so there’s going to be a huge hole at point guard next year after he graduates. Someone is going to have to play immediately. Freshman Daquan Cook is the only true point guard on the roster now, but he doesn’t get significant playing time. Katin Reinhardt looks more comfortable at shooting guard. And incoming juco guard Jelan Kendrick may end up playing more on the wing due to his size (6-foot-7). So there’s a possibility Smith could work his way into the rotation as early as next year.
Nice recovery on recruiting trail
Losing out on 2013 guard Isaac Hamilton in November really stung, but the UNLV coaching staff rebounded nicely in snagging Smith. He may not have Hamilton’s high rankings, but Smith has really come on strong in the past year, and there were other heavy hitters vying for his services. And the fact that he committed to the Rebels before even taking his other visits shows what a good impression the staff made with him.
One spot left
With Smith on board, there’s just one open scholarship left for next year (assuming both Anthony Bennett and Mike Moser depart for the NBA after this season). UNLV is targeting elite forward Jermaine Lawrence to fill that spot, and the Rebels will wait for him to announce his choice before moving on to other possibilities. A recruiting class of Lawrence, Smith and Findlay Prep’s Chris Wood (already signed) would be a dream scenario for Rice, and that’s before factoring in wild cards Dantley Walker and Jelan Kendrick (both signed).
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