In just under a week, fans of the UNLV men's basketball team will get a glimpse at what the Runnin’ Rebels will look like for the 2016-2017 season, as the team will be traveling to the Bahamas to play three exhibition games.
Beginning on August 14th, the Rebels will square off against the University of Toronto, followed by games against the Bahamas Basketball Federation Knights on August 16th and the Providence Storm on August 18th.
The NCAA allows schools to make one exhibition trip like this every four years, and the timing of this trip couldn’t have come at a more important time for first year head coach Marvin Menzies. With the Rebels fielding and an almost entirely brand new team, the extra practices and game time will be incredibly valuable in helping the team gel and learn how to play with together. Even if the team isn’t 100% complete yet.
"I still don’t have the whole enchilada in place yet," Menzies said. "I’m going to have a different beast to deal with (later), hopefully a bigger, stronger one."
While it will be interesting to see how the new look Runnin’ Rebels fare in their first game action together, the actual results aren’t nearly as important as the time spent together on the court.
Jalen Poyser, Dwayne Morgan and Tyrell Green are the only returners from last year’s squad, with only Poyser and Morgan logging any significant minutes last season. Furthermore, Poyser will be getting his first experience as the primary ball handler and go to scorer for the Rebels during this trip. This experience will be invaluable because he is going to have to the be Rebels best player on a nightly basis for them to have any success once the season gets here.
The fact that Coach Menzies is late to the 2017 recruiting class hasn’t stopped him from making runs at some of the top players that are still available. Troy Brown, a five star guard in the class of 2017, took an unofficial visit to UNLV on Monday.
While it’s unlikely that Brown chooses to attend his hometown school, 247Sports currently has Cal as the favorite to land the five star prospect, it’s still impressive that Menzies was even able to land the Rebels in his top 8 after how tumultuous the off-season was.
Menzies has a reputation as a top flight recruiter, so while it’s not likely that the Rebels will be able to land any of the remaining top prospects for the 2017 class, look for him make serious runs at some of the top 2018 prospects.
Brown, who currently plays for Centennial High School in Las Vegas, will take official visits to Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon, Kansas and Georgetown. The two other schools that round out his top eight are Arizona and Cal. He has already taken unofficial visits to both of those schools.
Here’s his mix tape: