Much has been made about the fact how beneficial UNLV’s summer exhibition tour of Canada will be for the blending incoming recruits like Katin Reinhardt, Daquan Cook, Demetris Morant and Savon Goodman with a strong returning group of Runnin’ Rebels led by Mike Moser and Anthony Marshall.
But it’s fair to say nobody is looking forward to finally playing with his new teammates in a game than a highly touted Rebel who redshirted last season after transferring from USC.
It will have been over 19 months since Bryce Dejean-Jones last played in a college basketball game – Jan. 15, 2011 at Oregon State to be exact — when UNLV opens its tour against Carleton University in Ottawa on Aug. 18.
And although Rebel head coach Dave Rice says the trip will be good for Dejean-Jones to “get the rust off,” fact is the athletic 6-foot-5 shooting guard has looked pretty darn good already in team practices.
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In fact, Dejean-Jones, who practiced with the Rebels last season, at times has looked like the best player on the court. That’s saying something when you have two returning all-Mountain West Conference players in Moser and Marshall.
“It feels great,” Dejean-Jones said when asked about preparing for the upcoming trip. “Sitting out, it was tough. … I’m ready to get out there and start playing.”
Dejean-Jones is a former winner of the John R. Wooden High School Player of the Year Award for the Los Angeles City Section at Taft High in Woodland Hills, Calif., where he averaged 16.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He left USC midway through his freshman season but not before averaging 11.2 points over his first 10 games, including a 21-point effort (3 of 5 3-pointers) in a 80-76 victory over New Mexico State in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Springfield, Mass.
Dejean-Jones left midway through that freshman season after his playing minutes fell dramatically when Fordham transfer Jio Fontan became eligible. He played just four minutes and had one shot and one rebound in a 80-76 loss to the Beavers in Corvallis in his final game with USC.
Check out the video above which includes a four-play practice sequence that shows Dejean-Jones (13) driving for a score past freshman shot-blocker Morant (24), altering the shot of Quintrell Thomas (1) on defense, draining a 3-pointer over Thomas on a pass from Cook and then stealing the ball from Justin Hawkins, all in the span of 30 seconds. Our apologies for some minor sound issues during the interview with Dejean-Jones that follows afterward.