Menzies eases pain with a recruiting six-pack

After suffering through a painful 11-21 season that would have driven many head coaches to drink, UNLV head coach Marvin Menzies and his staff popped open a recruiting six-pack that ranks among the nation’s best classes.

A brimming Menzies announced the names of his highly-touted class during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon at the Mendenhall Center.

“I would say it’s a grand slam,” Menzies said of the group topped by 6-foot-11 McDonald’s All-American Brandon McCoy and 6-7 forward Shakur Juiston of Hutchison Community College, the MVP of NJCAA Tournament.

Also signing with UNLV were 6-7 forward Tervell Beck of OnPoint Hoops Academy in El Reno, Okla., 6-11 forward Chiekh Mbacke Diong of Florida Prep Academy in Melbourne, Fla., 6-2 point lefty point guard Amauri Hardy, a one-time Oklahoma State commit from North Farmington (Mich.) High School and 6-7 forward Anthony Smith from Feather River College in Quincy, Calif. They join 6-5 guard Jay Green of Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix who signed with the Runnin’ Rebels in the fall.

“I’m tempering my excitement because we’ve still got to go out and win some games,” Menzies said of his recruiting haul. “But man this is huge.”

McCoy, an athletic big man with a soft shooting touch ranked the No. 15 prospect in the nation by ESPN.com, leads the way after averaging 28.6 points, 12.6 rebounds and 5.3 blocks per game at San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic High School. He had 13 points and seven rebounds in the prestigious McDonald’s All-American game and also played in the Jordan Brand Classic at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“He is already recognized on the national scene as one of the best high school players in the country,” Menzies said.

NBAdraft.net already has McCoy projected as the 18th pick in its 2018 mock draft and Menzies admitted his prize big man recruit could be a one-and-done. Long rumored to be leaning to UNLV, McCoy picked the Runnin’ Rebels despite strong interest from Oregon, Arizona, Michigan State and San Diego State.

“Our goal is to help him be an NBA All-Star,” Menzies said. “The greatest thing about Brandon is that he just wants to go to work. He doesn’t care if he leaves after this year (or) next year. He’s here to help the Rebels win.”

Menzies said McCoy’s commitment on Twitter on Tuesday night also played a key factor in UNLV signing Juiston and Hardy on Wednesday.

“He is the National Junior College Player of the Year and is a winner,” Menzies said of Juiston, who averaged 17.3 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists as a sophomore while helping lead Hutchison to the national title.

Hardy is a four-star recruit ranked the nation’s No. 22 point guard prospect by ESPN. He averaged 29 points, seven rebounds, six assists and six steals per game as a senior while also shooting 45 percent from 3-point range.

“Amauri is a tough, heady left-handed point guard who can do it all,” Menzies said. “He takes pride in his defense and possesses a true gym-rat mentality.”

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