According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, UNLV's freshman center Stephen Zimmerman is leaving school for good.
Multiple sources have reported that the seven footer has declared for the 2016 NBA Draft and will sign with an agent, disallowing a potential return to the Rebels program after the NBA Combine or if he goes un-drafted.
Zimmerman appeared in 26 games this season for the Rebels, while nursing a myriad of injuries throughout his rookie campaign. The Las Vegas native averaged 10.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest for a UNLV team that finished 18-15 on the season.
A highly toured prospect coming out of high school, Zimmerman was rated as the #12 player overall and the 5th best center in the 2015 recruiting class, behind a list of fellow big-time names including Skal Labissiere (Kentucky), Diamond Stone (Maryland), Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) and Chase Jeter (Duke).
Zimmerman's decision to stay home and play for UNLV was viewed as a tremendous sign of potential optimism for a program in need of a special season. Despite putting up a double-double in three of his first four games and posting thirteen double-digit rebounding performances, Zimmerman's impact never directly translated to wins.
After firing head coach Dave Rice mid-season and not retaining interim coach Todd Simon at the season's end, Zimmerman's departure from Vegas concludes a tumultuous six months for the Rebels.
An intriguing prospect due to this age (only 19 years old) and his wealth of potential, Zimmerman is a hard-to-gauge prospect and one that could be picked on a "as needed" basis by an NBA team. The consensus surrounding the young big man is that he'll end up somewhere around the mid-to-late first round but some draft boards have the double-double machine as a potential late lottery pick.
His performance in pre-NBA Draft events, including the NBA Combine, may help to better understand how NBA teams view him.
The news comes as another blow to a UNLV program that is still in a bit of chaos as their search for a new head coach continues to drag on.
After a few days of a potential Mick Cronin hiring ended in a whole lot of nothing and Saint Mary's Randy Bennett declined an offer from the Rebels, UNLV has now turned their focus to new candidates in Arkansas Little-Rock's Chris Beard and New Mexico State's Marvin Menzies as their next targets of choice.
Beard is a first year head coach for the Trojans, who finished 30-5 this season and were knocked out by Iowa State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Menzies is a bit more experienced, having compiled 198 wins in 9 seasons on the Aggies' sideline.
New Mexico State's season ended in the first round of the NIT to the aforementioned Saint Mary's. The Las Vegas Review-Journal has also reported that a decision on the coaching search could be imminent from UNLV and that Beard and Menzies are the final two candidates to be considered.