By Steve Guiremand
Anthony Bennett’s much-hyped freshman season got off to an impressive start at the Thomas & Mack Center during the Scarlet/Gray Showcase on Thursday night.
The 6-foot-8, 230-pound McDonald’s All-American from Findlay Prep, rated the nation’s top prep power forward last spring by several scouting services, first claimed the slam dunk championship, then displayed his outside shooting touch by sinking a pair of 3-pointers and scoring a team-high 15 points to lead the Gray to a 39-37 victory over the Scarlet in a 20-minute scrimmage.
Not a bad debut.
“It was pretty cool, pretty fun,” Bennett said. “It was my first time doing it (at the Thomas & Mack) so I just came out and gave it my all, try and help the team and try and put on a show for these guys.”
Bennett won the dunk contest over freshman center Demetrius Morant and Pitt transfer Khem Birch. On his final dunk, he jumped over Mozilla – the giant cardboard photo cutout of teammate Mike Moser that became a staple in the Rebellion student section last season.
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Bennett gave freshman guard Katin Reinhardt an assist for the idea.
“Katin was like we should get the Mike poster,” Bennett said. “I said alright. I didn’t know what to do so I was just going along with the flow.”
Bennett put on an even better show during the scrimmage, hitting jumpers, rebounding, dunking and generally showing why many believe he’ll eventually be an NBA lottery pick.
“He was terrific,” UNLV coach Dave Rice. “But (it was) not surprising. The international experience Anthony has, playing at a nationally-renowned prep school, playing so many games on a big stage – he’s a freshman but he’s not really a freshman, and he’s going to be a big part of what we’re going to do this year.”
A crowd of about 5,000 turned out for the free event that also featured a Legends Game of former Rebel stars that included a rare appearance by J.R. Rider.
Carlos Lopez-Sosa had 11 points and Quintrell Thomas added 10 points and a scrimmage-high 6 rebounds to lead the losing Scarlet squad.