Published Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010 | 9:20 a.m.
Updated Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010 | 10:40 a.m.
- Carlino arrives for UNLV visit, wants to be thorough this time around (12-14-2010)
- UCLA transfer Carlino will take official visit to UNLV this week (12-13-2010)
- One day after announcing transfer from UCLA, Carlino a hot commodity (12-11-2010)
- 2010-11 UNLV Schedule
- All Sun UNLV men's basketball coverage
In the end, Nigel Williams-Goss said he didn't want to lead anyone on.
It's a big — and somewhat rare — decision for someone who's just a sophomore in high school to make, and it will be interesting to see if it sticks for two years, but the Findlay Prep star sophomore point guard avoided what was going to turn into a recruiting frenzy by committing to UNLV on Tuesday morning.
"I knew my heart was with UNLV and knew down the road that I saw myself playing at UNLV," he said while waiting to board a plane to Houston. "It was a well thought-out decision by me and my family."
Williams-Goss, who moved with his family to Las Vegas from Portland, Ore., before last season, is on pace to become Findlay's first ever four-year player. This season, the 6-foot-4 guard is averaging 15.1 point, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game while shooting 65.1 percent from the floor, 41.4 percent from deep and 90.9 percent at the line.
Intangibles are big with Williams-Goss, who is a wise-beyond-his-years type of point guard. He's a mature and polished leader and facilitator who will be a strong fit running the show for UNLV coach Lon Kruger.
As the youngest starter Findlay Prep has ever had, he's led the Pilots to a 14-1 record so far this winter. They'll play a nationally-televised game on ESPN at 6 p.m. PST Thursday against Yates (Texas) High in Houston.
Locals can catch a live glimpse of him on Saturday night at 8 p.m., when the Pilots take on Bishop Manogue at the South Point Arena.
Ranked by Rivals.com as a four-star recruit and widely-regarded as one of the top prospects in the class of 2013, Williams-Goss said those coming hardest after him were Arizona, Washington, Oregon and Oregon State, while Georgetown and UConn, among several others, were beginning to pick up the pace.
But while so many other major prospects in recent years have flirted with the idea of UNLV and then spurned Kruger & Co. for a bigger stage, Williams-Goss saw vast potential in both the program and the Mountain West Conference.
UNLV is off to a 9-1 start and on pace for a fourth NCAA tournament appearance in five years, while the league could land four teams in the NCAA tourney field for a second straight year.
"To me, (UNLV's) system is a lot like Findlay Prep's, so that won't be a tough transition," said Williams-Goss, who is a regular attendee at UNLV home games. "UNLV is a team on the rise right now, and the Mountain West is going upwards while a lot of those so-called power conferences, like the Pac-10 and ACC, are kind of going down. I think if they add more players, who knows how good it can be?"
Williams-Goss's top priority at the moment is trying to lead Findlay to its third consecutive ESPN Rise National High School Invitational title this April. But he said that his job on the side will be playing the role of a recruiter of sorts for UNLV.
The Rebels' staff is currently in hot pursuit of plenty of top talent in town, such as Findlay Prep junior forward Anthony Bennett and Bishop Gorman's junior trio of superstar guard Shabazz Muhammad, versatile forward Rosco Allen and rising forward Ben Carter.
"It's definitely another reason behind my decision — Now we can start building a team around me and I can try to bring guys with me to the team," he said. "If I committed later, some of those other guys might have committed to other places.
"Shabazz Muhammad is a great player, no doubt about it, and he's going to be one of those guys I'm going to try to get on my side, and I want to play with him."
Since moving to Las Vegas, Williams-Goss has made it no secret that he feels right at home in the desert.
He's also gotten a grasp on just how much more of a home Las Vegas can feel like if he stays around and helps keep UNLV on the rise.
"Everyone who's been telling me to go there was saying that if we could get UNLV back to the way it used to be, the city could be mine and everyone would love me here," he said. "I wanted to go somewhere where I was really loved and wanted by the fans, and I think I have that here."