UNLV is going to need to add impact players in the offseason. With most top recruits already signed, T.J. Otzelberger will have to dip into the transfer portal.
Once the season ends, there will be more names in the portal, but there is already a good chunk of players looking for their next school.
Here are players that UNLV should be after this offseason.
G Nimari Burnett (Texas Tech)
Burnett might be the best player currently in the transfer portal. He would be a tough player for UNLV to land. But Burnett was a top 50 player in the 2020 recruiting class.
He played in 12 games for Texas Tech this season and struggled to score, shooting 37 percent on two pointers and 17 percent on threes. But he only took 50 shots.
Burnett projects as a potential playmaker with the ball in his hands, and he got to the line at an extremely high rate, shooting 36 free throws coming off the bench in those 12 games.
G Jaykwon Walton (Georgia)
Walton was a top 100 recruit in 2019. But he only played nine games for Georgia over the last two seasons.
Back in 2018, 247 Sports summarized his game: “Solid size for a wing. A smooth athlete who can be explosive in transition. Good shooting stroke and nice potential as a catch-and-shoot wing. Not a big playmaker off the dribble but can find his shot. Rebounds his position. Potential as a defender. Added toughness will tap into potential as defender and rebounder.”
UNLV needs playmakers off the dribble, but the talent of Walton would likely help the Rebels.
G Wynston Tabbs (Boston College)
Tabbs entered the transfer portal this week after he was suspended by the team for violating COVID-19 protocols. Obviously a red flag.
But Tabbs can shoot. He’s drilled 39.7 percent of his shots three and was the number two scorer for Boston College at 13.3 points per game.
F AJ Bramah (Robert Morris)
UNLV has reportedly shown interest in Bramah. At 6-foot-7 Bramah could play on the perimeter or in the front court. He has not been a three-point shooter in his college career, but he does get to the free throw line at a high rate.
F Patrick Kelly (Penn State)
Kelly is a 6-foot-8 forward that picked up an offer from UNLV. It was Marvin Menzies, not T.J. Otzelberger that offered Kelly though.
He redshirted his first year at Penn State, then played in just three games (and 7 total minutes) before entering the transfer portal this year.
Kelly has virtually no experience at the college level. But was projected as a shooter coming out of high school. Brian Snow of 247 Sports wrote this about Kelly in 2018:
“A versatile forward with a high skill level. Can shoot it from distance, and then also is athletic and skilled enough to attack a closeout if a defender jumps to him. As a passer, shows very solid ability. Can find players when he is driving to the rim. Defensively it will likely be a challenge. Doesn’t have great length nor great lateral athleticism, but his feel for the game and basketball IQ should help in that regard.”
Ultimately sounds like a Moses Wood type – potential solid role player, but not a massive difference maker.
The Point Guards
As of now, there are no obvious choices for a transfer point guard. This is a position UNLV needs to upgrade. Otzelberger will probably be hoping there is an influx of point guard options in the portal once the season ends.
But here are two of the better point guard options.
PG Gabe Stefanini (Columbia)
Stefanini has not played since the 2018-19 season. He missed all of last year due to an injury and the Ivy League elected to not play basketball this season. But the last time he did play he averaged 13.8 points and 4.1 assists per game. Plus he is a career 43.5 percent shooter.
Columbia was 10-18 that season, but he was the primary source of offense. He may not be a game changer, but Stefanini would challenge Marvin Coleman for the starting point guard spot.
PG Jimmy Clark (VCU)
Clark was dismissed from VCU in early February, but there was no reason given. Obviously that could be a problem. Also, Clark does not appear to be a shooter, hitting just 23.1 percent of his career 39 attempts.
Clark was the back up point guard for VCU this season, but he posted a solid assist rating, racking up 22.4 percent of all VCU assists when he was on the floor.
There are a few names to watch that are not in the transfer portal, and may never be. But the 2020 recruiting class had a lot of talent in Las Vegas. And if any of these players end up leaving their current school, UNLV should jump into the mix.
F Julian Strawther (Gonzaga)
Strawther has played in 18 of Gonzaga’s 21 games and is averaging 8.4 minutes. Gonzaga only has one senior in the frontcourt playing significant minutes, so Strawther might not have a clear path to playing time next year. Though 8 minutes per game for the best team in the country is probably better than playing every minute for UNLV.
F Mwani Wilkinson (LSU)
Wilkinson has been a regular starter for LSU and averages 21.2 minutes a game. Hard to imagine Wilkinson would want to leave that role for UNLV.
F Isaiah Cottrell (West Virginia)
Cottrell suffered an achilles injury that ended his season early. Prior to the injury, he was playing just 5.6 minute per game.
G Noah Taitz (Stanford)
Taitz hasn’t been a starter for Stanford, but he has a big role coming off the bench at 16.5 minutes per game. Like Strawther and Wilkinson, his current situation seems better than anything UNLV could offer.