#75 UNLV Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #75
Conference Rank: #4 Mountain West

UNLV Team Page#75 UNLV Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy UNLV Basketball Tickets

UNLV got off to a decent start last year and even beat Arizona in December. But everything fell apart pretty quickly once Mountain West play began. An injury to Rashad Vaughn certainly did not help and the Runnin’ Rebels finished the season with an 8-10 mark in conference play. It was a young team though, but they seem to only be getting younger so Coach Dave Rice brought in some transfers to become leaders. Still, another great recruiting class and that little bit of experience returning and that little bit of experience coming in, will make this a dangerous team on any given day. The key will be this group coming together and playing better together than they did last year.

2014-15 Record: 18-15, 8-10
2014-15 Postseason: none
Coach: Dave Rice
Coach Record: 89-47 at UNLV, 89-47 overall

Who’s Out:
Rashad Vaughn didn’t end up where he wanted from a team standpoint during his lone season with the Rebels. Personally though, Vaughn did not disappoint, averaging 17.8 points and 4.8 rebounds as a freshman. He parlayed that success into a first round selection in the 2015 NBA Draft. Christian Wood, a 6-11 sophomore, also entered the draft early, but went unselected. Wood averaged 15.7 points and 10.0 rebounds last season. UNLV also loses starting guards Jelan Kendrick and Cody Doolin to graduation. Kendrick averaged 7.1 points, 2.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds as a senior and Doolin added 6.4 points and 3.9 assists during his one season with UNLV after transferring in from San Francisco.

Who’s In:
Once again UNLV will have to get a lot out of their big list of newcomers. Transfers Ike Nwamu, Jerome Seagears, Ben Carter and Tyrell Bellot-Green bring that experience UNLV needs. Nwaume, a 6-5 guard, spent one season at Cleveland State and the last two at Mercer. It was at Mercer where he made a name for himself. The Bears beat Duke back in the 2014 NCAA Tournament and scored 11 points in that game. Last year, Nwaume stepped into the starting lineup and averaged 15.1 points per game. Seagears, a 6-1 guard, spent three years at Rutgers, where he most recently averaged 7.1 points and 3.2 assists with the Scarlet Knights in 2013-2014. Carter comes to UNLV from Oregon, where the 6-8 forward saw limited action in two seasons. Tyrell Bellot-Green is another big guy, but he can stretch the floor with his shooting. However, the most exciting newcomers are the freshmen, led by center Stephen Zimmerman. The seven-foot center is one of the top recruits in this class. He is widely considered a one and done player, but during his one year at UNLV, Zimmerman will be one of the best big men in the country. Small forward Derrick Jones and point guard Jalen Poyser are both highly regarded recruits as well. Both will compete for major playing time.

Who to Watch:
With Vaughn stealing the show, it is easy to forget how great and deep last year’s recruiting class was at UNLV. Four other members of that class played significant minutes last year and are ready to step up. Goodluck Okonoboh, a 6-10 center, made a pretty big splash on the defensive end last season, blocking 2.9 shots per game. He is also strong on the glass and should develop into more of an offensive threat as a sophomore. Patrick McCaw was the other player who was a regular starter as a freshman. The 6-7 guard averaged 9.6 points, 2.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals. Jordan Cornish is another big guard. In 16.3 minutes per game, Cornish averaged 5.5 points per game. He and McCaw are both dangerous shooters and will look for their shots more often this year. Dwayne Morgan, a 6-8 forward, is the last of the talented group of sophomores. He averaged 5.3 points and 3.0 rebounds, but has much more potential than that. The long, athletic forward may not even be able to crack the starting lineup as a sophomore, although he has more than enough talent.

Final Projection:
UNLV has a load of talent. They did last year too and it didn’t work out too well though. If this group can come together and play well together, the sky is the limit. The Rebels have more than enough talent to win the Mountain West and reach the NCAA Tournament and it would not be all that surprising if they do so. This is a young team though without four starters from a squad that won just eight conference games last season. It would not be all that surprising if this team was worse than they were a year ago. How things end up will probably be somewhere in the middle where UNLV ends up in the NIT.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Jerome Seagears, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Jordan Cornish, Sophomore, Guard, 5.5 points per game
Patrick McCaw, Sophomore, Guard, 9.6 points per game
Stephen Zimmerman, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Goodluck Okonoboh, Sophomore, Center, 5.7 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.2 (149th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.4 (119, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.5 (106, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.5 (31, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.2 (89, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.9 (70, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.3 (267, 7)
Rebound Margin: -1.5 (251, 8)
Assists Per Game: 13.7 (86, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.4 (66, 7)

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#10 Stephen Zimmerman
#42 Derrick Jones
#121 Jalen Poyser


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