He wasn’t a McDonald’s All-American like teammates Rashad Vaughn and Jelan Kendrick.
He isn’t a probable first round NBA Draft pick in June like Christian Wood.
But you could make a pretty valid argument these days that there is no more valuable player on UNLV’s basketball team these days than 6-foot-6 freshman guard Patrick McCaw.
With Vaughn still out following knee surgery and Wood not scoring until midway thru the second half, it was McCaw who once again stepped up to help lead the Runnin’ Rebels to a 69-57 victory over Wyoming on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
McCaw finished with a team-high 21 points, including 5-of-7 3-pointers, and also had three assists, three rebounds, two steals and just one turnover in 39 minutes of action as UNLV (16-13, 7-9 MWC) won for just the second time in five games.
“He’s a do-it-all guy for us,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “He can score. He can assist. He can rebound. (And) he’s one of our better defenders.”
Since Vaughn suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee at the end of a Feb. 10 win over Fresno State, McCaw has scored 20 or more points in a game three times and connected on 18-of-37 3-pointers (48.6 percent).
Not bad for a guy who Rebel coaches were considering redshirting last summer.
UNLV was clinging to just a 34-33 lead early in the second half when McCaw scored five points, including a 3-pointer, during a 7-0 run to give the Rebels a little breathing room. He also scored five more points during a 10-0 run later in the half that boosted UNLV’s lead to 13 points, and the Rebels cruised home from there.
“I knew that I would probably have to step up with Rashad going down,” McCaw said. “It’s a tough loss for the team. I just plan on filling that void, keep the team going.”
Senior point guard Cody Doolin, who finished with 10 points and four assists, may be McCaw’s biggest fan.
“I just can’t say enough about him,” Doolin said. “He’s probably my favorite player on the team.”
Wood, despite going scoreless the first 29 minutes, still managed to finish with his 16th double-double of the season, scoring 10 points and grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds.
Wyoming (21-8, 10-6) was led by guard Josh Adams who scored a game-high 24 points, including 4-of-8 3-pointers, while Derek Cooke Jr. added 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals and Larry Nance Jr. chipped in with nine points and nine rebounds.
UNLV returns to action on Wednesday night when it hosts San Diego State (22-7, 12-4) at 8 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack in its final regular season home game.