After failing to garner a postseason bid following a disappointing 20-13 season that included more than its share of off-the-court turmoil, UNLV coach Dave Rice continues to clean house.
MyLVsports has learned that point guard Deville Smith, who started 18 games and would have been the team’s top returning scorer with an average of 9.7 points per game, won’t be back for his senior season.
Smith’s departure means only four scholarship players who saw limited action last season – senior swingman Jelan Kendrick, sophomore forward Christian Wood, sophomore guard Kendall Smith and junior point guard Daquan Cook – will be back in uniform for a challenging 2014-15 campaign that features nonconference road games with Kansas, Arizona State and possibly Duke in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and a Dec. 23 home date with Arizona.
The returning foursome combined for just 25 starts and an average of 16.4 points per game. So Rice will be counting heavily on a incoming eight person recruiting class that ranks among the nation’s top five and includes Top 25 prep recruits 6-5 2G Rashad Vaughn of Findlay Prep, 6-8 forward Dwayne Morgan of Baltimore and 6-9 center Goodluck Okonoboh of Woburn, Mass., and senior point guard transfer Cody Doolin of San Francisco and senior guard Jerome Seagears of Rutgers. The Rebels also added highly-touted prep shooting guards Pat McCaw of Rockville, Md., and Jordan Cornish of New Orleans as well as 6-8 forward Ben Carter, a junior transfer from Oregon who prepped at Bishop Gorman but must sit out the upcoming season.
Smith, the MVP of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic last December, was also disciplined several times during the season for being tardy to team functions. He might be best known however for a game-winning jumper at the buzzer that was later overturned following a replay review by officials during a 91-90 overtime loss at Boise State.
UNLV’s top returning scorer, guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, recently announced he would play his senior season at Iowa State while two other key starters with eligibility remaining, forwards Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith, elected to leave school early and declare for the NBA Draft. And backup center Demetris Morant recently announced he was transferring to Florida Gulf Coast to be closer to his family. Morant’s father, Leroy, recently suffered a stroke and lives in Miami.