REBELS BASKETBALL:

Unveiling the Sun’s UNLV All-Decade Team

Wink Adams leads the way as the Sun’s UNLV Player of the Decade

Image

SUN FILE ART

Wink Adams was selected as the Sun’s UNLV Player of the Decade. His stellar career left him sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list and the Houston native helped push the Rebels to a pair of NCAA tournament appearances.

Reader poll

Who would you vote for as UNLV's Player of the Decade?

View results

The Rebel Room

The great Player of the Decade debate

  • You need to upgrade your Flash Player

Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer each take sides in deciding who should be UNLV's Player of the Decade between Wink Adams and Marcus Banks. Plus, a look at the rest of the Sun's all-decade roster.

It was a decade of ups and downs for the UNLV men's basketball program, to say the least.

But along the way, several individuals made their marks — some for four years, some for only one or two.

That said, as the year 2010 is upon us, here is the roster for the Las Vegas Sun's All-Decade Team. The list is capped by a 14th man — the Walk-on of the Decade — as voted on by our readers.

So without further hesitation ...

PLAYER OF THE DECADE

Guard — Wink Adams — 2005-09

In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world, many people will remember most Adams' senior season, which didn't quite live up to the hype. His scoring average dropped, his field goal percentage dropped and UNLV failed to reach a third consecutive NCAA tournament.

But at the end of the day, Adams was one of the key components of Lon Kruger's program in its rise from the college basketball ashes.

He was the first major get in the recruiting game for Kruger's staff, coming to UNLV in 2005 as the No. 25 prospect in his senior class, according to Rivals.com. Adams and UNLV seemingly were made for each other as the Rebels needed someone to help give the roster a facelift, and Adams, on the other hand, always had dreamed of playing at the school, remembering the program's glory days from his childhood.

Adams ended up sixth on the school's all-time scoring list, with 1,875 points, and led the team in scoring in each of his last three seasons.

The Houston native, who even tattooed his loyalty to UNLV on his shoulder as a senior and played pro ball this season in Turkey, is also third in school history in both 3-pointers made and steals.

His finest campaign came as a junior in 2007-08, averaging 16.9 points per game in leading the Rebels to the second round of the NCAA tourney.

"We needed someone like that at that point to jump us up a level," coach Lon Kruger said. "Wink had a terrific career when you think about the capsule of those four years. Just did a great job. Got his team to the NCAA tournament a couple of times when it hadn't happened in a while. Won some tournament games when it hadn't happened in a while. Was at the core of all of that, defensively and offensively. Loved to play, loved to compete."

THE REST OF THE STARTING FIVE

Click to enlarge photo

The Phoenix Suns' Marcus Banks drives to the basket during an NBA Summer League game at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Guard — Marcus Banks — 2001-03

Banks never took UNLV to the NCAA tournament but had the Rebels on the verge of an automatic bid with two trips to the Mountain West Conference tournament title game. The Rebels wound up in the NIT in both of of the Cimmaron High product's years on campus.

Banks also led UNLV in both assists and steals in each of his two campaigns, and despite only playing two years under Charlie Spoonhour, he's 25th in school history in career points. He was the first Rebel since J.R. Rider in 1992-93 to average more than 20 points per game in a season, scoring 20.3 as a senior in 2002-03. Since his departure, no one's accomplished the feat.

A lottery pick in 2003, going 13th overall to the Celtics, Banks's NBA career hasn't been stellar, but sticking in the league for what is now seven seasons and counting is still an accomplishment. Despite averaging only six points and 2.1 assists per game for his career, Banks will have made more than $20 million in NBA salary alone by the time this season comes to a close.

Click to enlarge photo

Dalron Johnson

Forward — Dalron Johnson — 1999-03

The Rebels' career leader in blocked shots with 194, Johnson was as well-rounded as they come. Johnson is ninth on the school's all-time scoring list, compiling 1,728 points over his four seasons. Johnson hit his collegiate peak in the 2001-02 season as a junior, when he led Charlie Spoonhour's first UNLV team in scoring (17.4) and rebounds (7.0). He currently plays professionally in Israel, where he's averaging 12 points and nine rebounds per game.

Forward — Odartey Blankson — 2003-05

Blankson transferred to UNLV from Marquette and ended up as a two-time first team All-Mountain West Conference performer. The Chicago native averaged a double-double as a junior, posting 17.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. He's still playing professionally overseas.

Center — Kaspars Kambala — 1997-01

Though his life since leaving UNLV has been up and down to say the least, Kambala was the Rebels' biggest star as the decade began. He finished up in 2001 as the program's 10th all-time highest scorer and ranks fourth on the school's all-time rebounding list, leading the team in boards in three of his four seasons on campus.

THE BENCH ... IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

Click to enlarge photo

Point guard Kevin Kruger looks for dribbling room against Oregon during the 2007 Sweet 16.

Guard — Kevin Kruger — 2006-07

Kruger only played one season at UNLV under his father, but he was the pulse of the program's most successful team of the decade. After transferring from Arizona State, he willed UNLV to the Sweet 16 in the 2007 NCAA tournament by knocking off Georgia Tech and No. 2 seed Wisconsin in Chicago. In the three NCAA tourney games, he totaled 36 points, 19 assists and only three turnovers. He played professionally this year in Italy and may be catching on in the NBA Developmental League again soon.

Guard/Forward — Romel Beck — 2003-05

A juco transfer, Beck enjoyed two stellar seasons in Las Vegas. He averaged 14.2 points per game as a junior, then 13.6 as a senior. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., native was deadly from anywhere on the floor on the offensive end and could truly spread an opposing defense thin. In his post-UNLV career, he's best remembered for crossing over Kobe Bryant on a four-point play in 2007 while playing for the Mexican National Team. This season, he's averaging 16.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game for the NBDL's Dakota Wizards.

Click to enlarge photo

Louis Amundson

Center — Louis Amundson — 2001-06

Amundson was a testament to the idea of a player truly blossoming over the course of his career. Coming from Boulder, Colo., the 6-foot-9 big man had questionable hands early in his UNLV career and was a liability at the free throw line. While he was never a stellar shooter at the line, the rest of his game developed, and as a senior in 2005-06 Amundson averaged 14.3 points and 8.6 rebounds for Lon Kruger's club. After bouncing around the semi-pro ranks for a brief stint, he's found a home as a reserve for the NBA's Phoenix Suns.

Forward — Rene Rougeau — 2005-09

Maybe the most improbable standout UNLV has had in recent memory, Rougeau didn't even start as a senior in high school coming out of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. He came in as a walk-on and left as one of UNLV's most influential players this decade. As a senior, the 6-foot-6 Rougeau played just a shade under 30 minutes a game, averaging 10.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and two blocks per game. The Rebels' top energy provider in his final two seasons, he led the team in blocked shots both years. He currently plays for the ABA's Clayton Showtime.

Click to enlarge photo

Curtis Terry

Guard/Forward — Lou Kelly — 1999-02

Kelly's biggest contributions came as a senior in 2001-02, when he averaged 15.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game for the Rebels. It may have only been one stellar year, but, well, he was pretty stellar that year.

Guard — Curtis Terry — 2004-08

On a team that found its way back to the NCAA tournament in 2008 for the second consecutive year, Terry was the man at the wheel, keeping everything in control. That was the capper to his senior season, which saw the Seattle native average 11.1 points, 4.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds a game. He recently returned from his season overseas.

Click to enlarge photo

Wendell White

Forward — Wendell White — 2005-07

White was a 6-foot-6, 215-pound bruiser who provided a good amount of toughness during UNLV's run to the Sweet 16 in 2007. That year, as a senior he averaged 14.4 points and 6.1 rebounds a game but cemented his place in UNLV history during the two wins in the tourney's first weekend in Chicago. In those two contests, he combined to score 41 points on 16-of-24 shooting. He's currently playing overseas in Japan.

Guard — Tre'Von Willis — 2007-current

With UNLV currently at 12-2 and potentially en route to its third NCAA tournament appearance in four years, it was only fitting that a current Rebel gets a spot on the roster. No one is more fitting than Willis, who along with Kevin Kruger helped lead the migration of several transfers to the UNLV campus. After coming over from Memphis, Willis was an impact player for Lon Kruger as soon as he became eligible. Despite nagging injuries all season long, he averaged 11.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists last year as a sophomore. He's seen his shooting percentage go up 11 points this season and leads UNLV in scoring, averaging 14.5 points a game and is the team's true leader on the floor.

Click to enlarge photo

Scott Hoffman

WALK-ON OF THE DECADE (via reader voting)

Guard — Scott Hoffman — 2005-08

Hoffman made his way to Las Vegas from Hays, Kan., through a connection between his father and Lon Kruger dating back to their days at Kansas State together. In his three seasons following a redshirt year, Hoffman scored three buckets in mop-up duty, including a pair of 3-pointers. But he became a fan favorite, and though many never saw it, developed into quite the practice player, leading the scout team daily into battle against the Rebels' rotation players. He left following last season with one year of eligibility remaining with a degree in hand and now works in Las Vegas.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 32 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy.

  1. Very good idea of adding Willis in there. I like that a lot. He should leave UNLV on the all-decade starting 5 and maybe a shot at Player of Decade (pretending the rest of his career @ UNLV counts for this decade)

    Can't wait to see him fully develop!

  2. If you put curtis terry on the list, might as well add Joe Darger, who played better defense. Nobody gives him credit, but without Joe, we don't make it to the tournament in '06 or '07.

  3. Wink-a-dink-a-doo! I loved watching this kid play for the Rebels. He used to just take over games, and he OWNED BYU!! What a great article, it is great to hear some of those names. I also think Joe Darger, aka Killer, has to be on this list.

  4. The late Scott Hoffman push for 13th man really paid off. What a great start to my new years celebration...This selection of Scott Hoffman is almost as good as UNLV beating Louiville last year on new years.

  5. Wow, this list really shows how bad UNLV basketball was this decade.

  6. Looking at this list of, ahem, accomplished NBA players and former college All Americans reminds me just how far we still have to go in our efforts to bring big time NCAA basketball back to Las Vegas in anything other than a visitors jersey.

  7. What a great article... dont care about some of these jokers but ive probably been to about 90% of the home games in the last 10 years and had some great times and even better memories. Names like kaz and dalron get me FIRED up. sure it was tough putting this together.. appreciate you guys, good stuff.

  8. Great to see Curtis Terry on this list. Unfortunately, we didn't realize how important he was to this program until it was too late (and he was already gone).

    Also, just reading this, there is a different feeling about the guys who took us to the NCAAs vs. the others. Nothing against them, but the memories are so much more vivid of March with the names like Adams, Kruger, Rougeau, Terry and White. Heck, even Hoffman played several minutes vs. Kent State.

    Here's hoping names like Marshall, Lopez, Hawkins, Bellfield, Thomas, etc., will be considered 10 years from now.

    Happy New Year fellow Rebel fans.

    Anyone else remember what they were doing one year ago this early evening? Go Rebels!

  9. Nice to hear my boy Wendell is playing pro ball. Good kid and very clutch, played big in the NCAAs and dismantled Ga Tech not only with the scoring but the D, shutting down their big guys; just ran out of time against Oregon.

  10. I like the list. Wink was the heart and soul of the program on its rise from mediocrity to respectability. Not sure if my favorite Wink memory was him getting the and-one against TCU to win the game when TCU shot the lights or when he just dismantled BYU in a span of about a minute and a half on the way to the tourney victory.

    One guy not on the list that I miss watching is JK. He had some nasty blocks and dunks and was very good mixing it up inside. The team has been missing a guy like Wendell or JK for sometime now and it shows against the KSU and USC's of the world. Here's hoping we get a guy like those two soon.

  11. Wow thought for sure everyone would be mad about the Wink pick.

    But I agree with it. His swole senior season was a bust but the reasons listed for him being the top player of the decade are right on.

  12. The word "short" comes to mind....short then, short now...

  13. Yep Wink Adams.

    Defiantly seems about right. Was here all 4 years (not a transfer, walk-on or red shirt) and had impact in all NCAA Tourny appearances this decade.

  14. i was looking for a list of the rosters over the decade... no luck. i forget if dickel and kevin simmons and greedy were late 90's or 00. brian o'keefe... damian smith... i got nothing.

  15. It must be difficult to put a list like this together and someone is undoubtedly going to be left off. I agree with yorkshire that Darger deserves a spot. I think it is so rare to have a player as unselfish as Joe. A guy that can light up the 3 point line that moves to the blocks to battle guys much taller than him. I'll never forget how he dominated Luke Nevell on the defensive end. Great article, brought back a lot of memories.

  16. Dickel and Keefe were late 90's. Dickels last year might have been 2000. Keefe was a junior or senior in 97

  17. Dickel Sucked.

  18. 2nd in the nation (behind tj ford) in assists and sucked... k.

  19. Nice players, most very hard workers, but must agree begrudgingly that this list does not speak too well of the past decade of Rebel roundball. Just a little above average, no more. With due respect to Wink, not a true stud among them. Truly hate to agree with Sufferin's ongoing rants, but we need and deserve more talent to work with! Here's hoping that at least two or three of our current bunch take us to another level!

  20. Ryan and Ray, loved the recorded discussion. Have to agree with Ray on how things might have been if Marcus had some talent to play with. Dalron had his moments, but in my opinion, did not come close to reaching his potential and so was one of the most frustrating Rebel players ever for me.

    Got to hear more on the all-time Rebel team vs. other school's all-time teams! We absolutely hold our own!

    Thanks again.

  21. I watched Jimmer Fredette (BYU) drop 49 points on Arizona a few days ago and he now holds the honor of scoring the most points of any BYU player. It reminded me of Trevor Diggs in 2001 when he dropped 49 on Wyoming. Of all the players UNLV has had no Rebel has scored more in a single game this decade. His overall shooting average was about the same as Becks. And, the two years he was with the Rebels his averages were better than Dalron in both years they played together. He should at least be mentioned in my opinion.

  22. Yeah, it's a sad state of affairs when even your player of the decade isn't a significant NBA player. Not ONE significant NBA player in the entire decade?. Well, hopefully Lon is on his way to changing that, and let's hope the new decade brings marked improvement. Go Rebs!

  23. Well, there ya go, Drew Gordon just transfered to New Mexico. Some say he was a cancer in the UCLA locker room, I hope that that is true and that we really aren't missing out on anything. Not to mention we have to play against that moron at least 4 times in the next 2 seasons.

  24. kenns29 - Great point.....I've always felt that Kruger's recruiting has been substandard.

    Regarding the list - I agree with it.....not proud of the list, but agree with it.

    S711

  25. good work, love it.

  26. who cares if you think the recruiting hasnt been as good as it should be. The results have been up to your standards.

  27. For you Kruger detractors:

    Last decade's list of coaches:

    Bayno = 0 NCAA tourney wins
    Good = 0 NCAA tourney wins
    C. Spoonhour = 0 NCAA tourney wins
    J. Spoonhour = 0 NCAA tourney wins
    Kruger = 3 NCAA tourney wins

    I could give a flying you-know-what how "bad" Kruger's recruits supposedly are/were. The man wins in the NCAA's with UNLV, Period. And, HIS kid made player of the decade. Enough said.

  28. @ Grayback

    Stop confusing us with your facts and statistics, they distract us from the all-important opinions of the anonymous posters on the LV Sun. How dare you!!!

  29. Lol!

  30. Now that I've realized this; having Joel Anthony not on this list is a misstep. He was MWC Defensive POY. His one great season trumps Kelly & Beck's, IMO.

  31. Yeah Lon should bring in big time players like: Tim Floyd, John Calipari, Billy Gilespie, Bob Huggins, and Bob Knight do/did.

    Then we can have one or two good seasons before the NCAA brings the fury. And we'll get the added bonus of getting read about: self-imposed sanctions, a coach that will split and leave a wake of destruction, multiple DUI's, and kids getting choked.

    Even the good guys like Bill Self, Coach K, Roy Williams, have had articles published about rules that were skirted, or the treatment of players that would have landed a school with the history of UNLV in serious trouble. I'm not saying I believe everything I read, but Kruger is running a good CLEAN program, that is getting progressively more competetive

    Do any of you realize what it takes to overcome 18+ years of bias, and mediocrity?

  32. I watched every single season of UNLV basketball since Marcus Banks junior year in 01-02 when I moved back to Vegas in 7th grade. So I remember every player on this list, agree for the most part.

    Honestly, though I think Kruger's recruiting is on the up and up and has turned the corner.

    Just in the last 2 years he's brought int Trevon, Jasper, Stanback, AM, Hawkins, Quintrell Thomas, and Lopez. I think that group will end up producing big time results.