Going into Tuesday evening Marvin Menzies had two open scholarships, a roster with some talented, raw players, but nothing that led anyone to believe that the Rebels would be finishing in the top half of the Mountain West next season. What a difference 24 hours can make, as coach Menzies and his staff have pulled off a recruiting coup no one thought possible.
It all started Tuesday night, with a commitment from 5-star center Brandon McCoy out of San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic. The 15th overall rated prospect, per ESPN, is the crown jewel of the recruiting class, and instantly the fan base was reenergized with hope for next season.
The commitment from McCoy alone would have been enough for Menzies and his staff to hang their hats on, and consider 2017 an incredibly successful recruiting season, given the Rebels finished dead last the previous year. But the Runnin’ Rebels coaches weren’t done.
Wednesday afternoon the Rebels received commitments from two more of the top available players.
Amauri Hardy, who was originally committed to Oklahoma State, but decommitted when head coach Brad Underwood left for Illinois, is a high volume, aggressive scorer out of Michigan. He averaged close to 30 points per game in high school, and plays a fast paced, attacking style of basketball.
With Menzies saying he wants to play at a higher pace, Hardy should be a perfect fit for him, and compete for minutes right away. In addition to the huge pick up of Hardy, the Runnin’ Rebels secured a commitment from the top rated junior college player in Shakur Juiston.
Juiston led his Hutchinson Community College team to a junior college national championship last year, while also being named the junior college player of the year. The 6’7” power forward will likely earn big minutes right away for the Rebels after posting just over 17 points per game last season.
Last season, the Rebels front court was one of their many weakness, and was projected to be a weakness again this year. But with McCoy, Juiston and Mbacke Diong all signed on for next year, and Cheickna Dembele and Dwayne Morgan returning, the Rebels will feature one of, if not the best front courts in the Mountain West.
Here’s what Menzies had to say after a furious 24 hours of program defining commitments:
This is a major infusion of talent, with 247 Sports now ranking the Rebels with the 12th best recruiting class nationally, and something to give UNLV fans a lot of optimism about. When Menzies was hired, he was billed as an ace recruiter, but it was assumed it would take a few recruiting cycles before he would be able to get in with the top recruits.
Well, Menzies has proven that assumption to be false, showing that he has the ability to quickly develop relationships with high caliber players, and sell them on his vision for where he sees the UNLV program going. If Marvelous Marvin can keep this momentum rolling into the 2018 and 2019 recruiting classes, the UNLV program will quickly ascend to the top of the conference.