There was expected to be great turnover on the UNLV basketball roster after a disappointing 12-15 season. And the change at head coach, with T.J. Ozelberger leaving and Kevin Kruger entering, was a sign that there would be a lot of turnover.
Currently, nine players from this past season’s roster have entered the transfer portal. Several players have already landed new homes.
David Jenkins will go play for former Utah State head coach Craig Smith at Utah, Caleb Grill will follow Otzelberger back to Iowa State, Devin Tillis is off to UC Irvine and Donavan Yap recently announced he is moving in conference to Fresno State.
Two other key contributors from last year’s team to have entered the portal are Bryce Hamilton and Mbacke Diong. Hamilton originally announced that he would enter the NBA Draft Process, but less than a week later he announced he was going to the portal.
Hamilton was the leading scorer for UNLV this past season with 17.9 PPG. In his sophomore year he was named to the First-Team All-Mountain West after averaging 16 PPG. Hamilton missed some time this season with an ankle injury.
Diong announced yesterday that he is entering the portal. In an article with ESPN, Diong said that he wants to go to a school that will compete for the NCAA Tournament, obviously, he did not see that at UNLV in Kruger’s first season.
With the nine subtractions, Kruger and his staff have added four players from the transfer portal, all of which are from the Big 12, where Kruger was an assistant for a few years and where his new assistant, Carlin Hartman was an assistant at Oklahoma the last five seasons with Lon Kruger.
Royce Hamm Jr. (Texas), Victor Iwuakor (Oklahoma) and Jordan McCabe (West Virginia) were the first three to announce their commitment to UNLV. All three played sparingly for their Big 12 schools, they all should see their minutes increase significantly at UNLV with so many players gone.
A recent addition was Donovan Williams, a former Texas player. Williams was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and did not play a lot at Texas, but he is a 6-foot-6 guard that has the ability to bring athleticism and help out with UNLV struggles defending the three.
Two wildcards to keep an eye on are 2021 recruits Keshon Gilbert told the Las Vegas Sun that he intends on coming to UNLV. The bigger question is Arthur Kaluma, the 6-foot-8 forward who was the big get in the recruiting class. We have not heard directly from Kaluma on if he will still come to UNLV, but Kruger said in the same story in the Las Vegas Sun that he intends on Kaluma coming to UNLV.
Kaluma had a close relationship with Zaon Collins, the former UNLV recruit who was charged with a DUI in a crash that resulted in the death of a man.
Each of the new players will be expected to make some sort of immediate impact on the team. There will also be a lot of eyes on Nick Blake who showed flashes of his potential, and on Marvin Coleman and Moses Wood, who should also see their roles increased as well.
While it is common to see players enter the transfer portal and to see a lot of roster attrition, this has still been a lot of turnover for a team. But Kruger appears to know what type of players he wants for UNLV, and what he needs to turn the Rebel basketball program around.