T.J. Otzelberger and the Runnin’ Rebel basketball program secured a major win in the recruitng game last night when 2021 four-star forward Arthur Kaluma committed to UNLV. They were one of Kaluma’s final eight choices, UNLV beat out Arizona State, Arkansas Kansas, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Texas A&M, and USC.
The 6-foot-8 prospect from Dream City Christian High School in Glendale, Arizona, joins Keshon Gilbert and Zaon Collins in what is now turned into a stout 2021 recruiting class. Collins, who signed his letter of intent to UNLV yesterday, is a four-star guard who is ranked 36 by 247 Sports, now, the Runnin’ Rebels add Kaluma who is ranked 39 by 247 Sports, giving them two players in the top-40. According to 247 Sports, UNLV currently has a top-15 2021 recruiting class.
UNLV appeared to shoot up the board of Kaluma when Collins committed to UNLV late this summer. What might have worked in the favor of the Runnin’ Rebels was the friendship between Kaluma and Collins. The Texas native Kaluma was set to join Collins’ AAU team, Vegas Elite, this year, however, the pandemic prevented them from getting on the court this summer on the AAU circuit.
What likely stood out to UNLV and Otzelbeger was Kaluma’s ability to knock down the outside shot. Kaluma also appears comfortable with the ball in his hands in space. UNLV went to a four guard lineup often last year, which helped them create spacing on the floor. By having a forward that is a threat from three and ability to create in space, Kaluma fits perfectly into Otzelberger’s offense.
Do not expect Kaluma to hang around the three-point line all the time. With his size and athleticism, he can work his way into the paint and finish at the rim. He also uses his height and length to control the boards, get blocks, and create stops defensively, which are key to helping UNLV’ s transition offense. His versatility on defense can allow Otzelberger to put him on nearly anybody on the opposing team.
Not only does Kaluma join an already talented 2021 class, but he will be apart of a Runnin’ Rebel team who is coming of building a loaded 2020 recruitng class that was ranked first in the Mountain West by 247 Sports. Three-star forward Nick Blake is the star of the class and three-star center Jhaylon Martinez has high upside. The combination of those three could pose a threat to teams in the conference as a versatile group of forwards that can spread the floor and finish at the rim.
Due to the pandemic, players this season have been granted an extra year of eligibility. There is currently one senior, Mbacke Diong, on this year’s team and four scholarship juniors, so there could be another interesting roster situation for UNLV in the future. But right now, Otzelberger is creating a pool of young, talented players who fit what he is trying to build at UNLV as he works to rebuild the Runnin’ Rebel program.