This offseason has been tumultuous, even for UNLV standards.
With 10 players in the transfer portal, UNLV is set to lose 83.6 percent of the minutes played from last season. Only three scholarship players remain in Nick Blake, Marvin Coleman and Reece Brown.
Meanwhile Kevin Kruger has filled his roster in the transfer portal with six new players. Add in two recruits and UNLV will have nearly an entire new roster next season. So what will it look like?
Starting in the backcourt, UNLV has three options to play point guard. Marvin Coleman ascended to the starting role in 2019-20 and should have a solid shot to win that starting spot again. But he’ll be facing competition from Jordan McCabe, a West Virginia transfer looking for playing time.
We don’t know what Kruger may have promised or told McCabe in order to bring him to UNLV, but based on him transferring down a level, I would assume McCabe is the favorite to be the starter at point guard.
The third option is incoming freshman Keshon Gilbert. He is 247 Sport’s 210th best player in the 2021 class. Players in that range have varying degrees of immediate success. Pat McCaw was ranked 198th and was one of UNLV’s best players as a freshman. Trey Woodbury was ranked 165th and played just six minutes a game.
The good news for all three point guards is that UNLV does not have a lot of wing depth. Lineups with multiple point guards is certainly possible next season.
The Rebels return Nick Blake for his sophomore season. Plus have brought in two transfers in Donovan Williams and Justin Webster. These might be the three best bets to lead UNLV in scoring.
Blake could see his role expand from playing out position at point guard and as a secondary option to Bryce Hamilton. As a freshman, he showed the ability to get to the rim, although he was inconsistent.
Donovan Williams averaged just 3.3 points per game last season for Texas. But his minutes are set to explode this season and we will find out if he can take on a bigger scoring role.
Justin Webster is the most accomplished scorer on the roster. He averaged over 12 points per game at Hawaii last season. And while he will be taking a step up in competition, he does have the potential to be a playmaker.
The front court will be interesting, as there are two positions for five guys to share.
First off, UNLV has one true center on the roster in David Muoka, the transfer from Lamar. We don’t know what kind of style Kruger will play. So projecting how many minutes a true center will get is tough.
But with only one center, it is clear UNLV will play plenty of minutes with two power forwards (or four guards) instead of a center.
UNLV returns Reece Brown from last season. But Brown is likely last on the depth chart for front court minutes. That is because Kruger brought in two transfers in Royce Hamm and Victor Iwuakor.
Hamm joins Williams as a Texas transfer looking for more minutes. Hamm spent four seasons in Austin mostly riding the bench. Last season he played just 8.8 minutes per game. But at 6-foot-9, he offers good size at the power forward position and the potential to play as an undersized center.
Iwuakor followed assistant coach Carlin Hartman from Oklahoma to UNLV and similarly to Hamm, was mostly on the bench in his two-year career. Hamm and Iwuakor may be battling for playing time all season.
Or the two may take a back season to Arthur Kaluma, a top 50 recruit in the 2021 class. Kaluma has not yet asked for his release from the program, but he also hasn’t confirmed he is coming to UNLV either.
If Kaluma does become a Rebel, he could potentially be the best player on the team. Projecting that big of a role on a freshman is tough, but his skill set would be perfect for a scoring/playmaking/shooting power forward. (He could conceivably play minutes on the wing as well.)
That is best case scenario for UNLV. But Kruger has insulated himself in case Kaluma backs out or simply isn’t an immediate star. While Hamm and Iwuakor likely won’t be stars. They should be solid Mountain West contributors.
If Kaluma comes, UNLV has two scholarship spots open. There are not a ton of open minutes on the roster, but that should not stop Kruger from over recruiting his roster.
As far as need, the Rebels don’t have a ton of wing depth and lack good shooters. Adding another three-point threat would help.
Now, an attempt to predict the rotation for UNLV, which is nearly impossible in April.
Point guard minutes
— Jordan McCabe: 30
— Marvin Coleman: 10
— Nick Blake 30
— Justin Webster 30
— Donovan Williams 20
— Arthur Kaluma 30
— David Muoka 18
— Ryce Hamm 16
— Victor Iwuakor 16