T.J. Otzelberger landed a massive recruit back on November 12. Top 50 recruit Arthur Kaluma pledged to UNLV. Six days later, Kaluma signed his letter of intent with the Rebels.
But a lot has changed since November.
Kaluma’s friend Zaon Collins, who was also committed and signed, was involved in a car accident that killed a man. Collins has been released from the UNLV program.
Otzelberger left UNLV to take the Iowa State job and Kevin Kruger was elevated from assistant to take control in Vegas.
Now in April, Kaluma’s future is uncertain.
On April 12, Keshon Gilbert, the other member of the 2021 recruiting class, told the Las Vegas Sun he was still coming to UNLV. And Kevin Kruger discussed UNLV’s two signed recruits.
“Nothing has changed, at least to me,” Kruger said. “They’re still absolutely going to be a part of this program and vision going forward. We talked and we’re excited and energized about them coming on board.”
But today Kruger did not sound as optimistic. On the Press Box on ESPN Las Vegas, he had the following exchange (with me).
Bischoff: “Are there any recent updates, how have your recent conversations been with Arthur Kaluma?”
Kruger: “Just ongoing talks. Always ongoing talks. And just being as honest and open and transparent as we can be.”
Bischoff: “Do you get the sense; do you expect him to be at UNLV in the fall. Or before then?”
Kruger: “Yeah, I just think we continue to talk. Kind of see what’s best for everybody. And hopefully everybody is happy at the end.”
Kruger’s tone was decidely not optimistic. Plus UNLV has brought in a couple of transfers that play the same position as Kaluma.
If both Royce Hamm and Victor Iwuakor are going to play significant minutes at power forward, Kaluma likely won’t be here.
Kaluma is still signed to UNLV. But it would be very unlikely that UNLV would refuse to release him. Also, important to note, Kaluma has not stated either way if he is coming back or leaving UNLV.
The big blow is Kaluma’s potential. As a top 50 recruit, he could conceivably be a difference maker as a freshman. Right now UNLV’s roster is devoid of proven of offensive play makers.
It might be a lot to put on a freshman’s shoulders, but Kaluma could have conceivably been a top offensive option.
If Kaluma does end up leaving UNLV, Kruger will have three open scholarship spots on his roster.