UNLV Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

by Jake Runyon (@jakerunyon)

A lot of things have happened since the last time I wrote about UNLV basketball.

-Chris Wood was tweeting photoshopped pictures of himself and Big Zimm.
-Rashad Vaughn declared for the NBA draft with a bad knee.
-Like 9 people committed or transferred to UNLV
-Thomas and Mack got a facelift.
-Chris Wood threw the most awkward NBA draft party in the history of the world and no one knew how to feel about it.
-Anthony Bennett joined his 3rd team in 3 years.
-Dantley Walker decided to transfer…. to Chaminade of all places.
-Derrick Jones viciously & savagely dunked the basketball.
-Chris Wood sort of disappeared in the middle of summer league, and we all thought, “welp, at least he will make decent money in Europe.” Only to then end up on the 76ers training camp roster and eventually make the team.
-Tony Sanchez painted the cannon the most glorious shade of red.
-Donald Trump happened….
-Another Fast and the Furious movie came out.

And just like that, another season of UNLV basketball is upon us and this one feels… different than last year? or does it feel the exact same?

The rhetoric from last year hasn’t change at all.

“Dave Rice needs to prove he can do more than just recruit.”
“The talent we have is off the charts, but we are inexperienced.”
“Anthony Bennett will be fine! A new team will be great for him.”

Regardless, after Friday night’s exhibition against Whittier High School College, it is time for me to express my mindless thoughts, and predictions on how UNLV fare this season and test out a few new nicknames.

-Projected starting five:

PG: Jerome Seagears: Jerome “the Leader” Seagears was a team captain last year when he was red-shirting. So yeah.
SG: Ike Nwamu: Captain Nigeria was on a team that beat Duke. Enough said.
SF: Pat McCaw: He already has an awesome nickname. Inspector Gadget. He can play almost every position on the floor. For variety sake, I will throw out a new nickname to see if I can make it stick… St Louis Army Knife
PF: Goodluck Okonoboh: The Sultan of Swat is going to hit basketballs out of the sky. It is what he does. I think Dave Rice sleeps better at night knowing that he has Goodluck protecting the rim.
C: Stephen Zimmerman: Big Zimm has been working on his intimidation game. Rumor has it this Whittier player went on to fake his own death and flee the country after receiving this nasty stare down.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the starting five change throughout the year. UNLV is DEEEEEEP this year. Pretty much any player in UNLV’s rotation could start at some point in the season.

Rotation players:

-Jordan Cornish: Jordan the Cornish Hen is to UNLV what Fulton Reed was to the Mighty Ducks… He will beat you up and man… can he shoot.
-Dwayne Morgan: Captain Morgan is going to thrive under UNLV’s full court press defense. His length is going to bother a lot of teams trying to pass the ball up the floor.
-Ben Carter: I read an article on Runrebs.com this week that descriped Coach Carter as “not an elite raw athlete”, “high basketball IQ” “little things guy”… Basically he is the Sheldon Cooper of the Rebels.
-Derrick Jones: Derrick “the Drone” Jones is going to be circling the open airspace around the Thomas & Mack thowing down hellfire missiles (dunks) on enemy combatants who are standing too close to the rim.
-Jaylen Poyser: Maple Syrup cause his game is smooth, sweet and from Canada.

Best case scenario for UNLV: Thanks to great team chemistry, the Runnin’ Rebels win the MWC league for the 1st time ever and follow it up with cutting down the nets in the MWC tournament. They ride the momentum into the NCAA tournament and make their first final four since 1991.

Worst case scenario for UNLV: The rebels fail to win any marquee non-conference games. Inconsistent play haunts them during the Mountain West play and after failing to secure a top seed, the rebels are bounced from the conference tournament. Then Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump come to campus for the 2016 presidential debate.