Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010 | 1 p.m.
The UNLV men's basketball season has suffered a major blow before it even has started.
Senior guard Kendall Wallace — a reserve who is the Rebels' primary 3-point threat — tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during an open gym session Tuesday afternoon and will miss the 2010-11 season. A Wednesday morning MRI revealed the injury.
"It's a terrible thing," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "It was just a non-contact thing where he landed awkwardly. It's absolutely disappointing, especially for Kendall, because he's one of our seniors. He'll still be very much a part of (this season), but won't be able to play."
Wallace will undergo surgery to repair the tear once the swelling around the knee goes down, and ACL rehab typically takes about six months. Kruger said he expects Wallace to use his available redshirt year and return to the team for the 2011-12 season.
By employing his ability to quickly release 3-point attempts in bunches, Wallace was the Rebels' fifth-leading scorer (6.9 ppg) during a 2009-10 campaign that ended with a 25-9 record and the program's third NCAA tournament appearance in four years.
Wallace hit a team-best 61 treys and shot 39.9 percent from beyond the arc — a mark which ranked second on the squad.
The Mesa, Ariz., native also was responsible for maybe the greatest individual performance by any Rebel last season, when his 3-point barrage lifted UNLV to a 74-62 win at No. 15 New Mexico on Jan. 9, helping Kruger's club avoid an 0-2 start in conference play. In 23 minutes of run, he scored 21 points off 7-of-10 3-point shooting, including a 6-of-7 showing in the second half.
Moving forward, Kruger and his staff now must find a way to fill Wallace's minutes, as he averaged 19.1 off of the bench as a junior.
The injury to Wallace leaves the Rebels without their two most accurate 3-point marksmen from a year ago. Matt Shaw, who shot 45 percent from long range (27-of-60) as a redshirt junior, was suspended for a year by the NCAA after failing a drug test at the NCAA tourney in Oklahoma City. With his eligibility expiring after this season, it put a premature end to the 6-foot-8 forward's UNLV career.
Three likely candidates to help replace some of Wallace's minutes are sophomores Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins and senior Derrick Jasper.
Jasper is capable of playing and defending four positions on the floor. He put up well-rounded averages (6.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.9 apg) last season, but it's yet to be seen how the 6-foot-6 swingman will respond this year after missing the final 13 games of the 2009-10 campaign with a knee injury of his own.
Marshall, a 6-foot-3 Las Vegas native, emerged late last season as a defensive terror and instant adrenaline boost off of the bench with his ability to make plays above the rim. Where he'll have to step up some is his perimeter shooting, as he was just 1-of-23 from downtown as a freshman.
Hawkins likely has the most to gain of the three, as his minutes dwindled as his freshman season progressed, and he finished the year averaging 12.4 a game. Despite hitting only eight of his 29 3-point attempts last year, he might be the best outside shooter of the bunch and also would give the Rebels another strong ball-handler on the floor.
The wild card could be 6-foot-6 Israeli freshman wing Karam Mashour, who the Rebels signed just days before the start of the fall semester and could develop into a strong under-the-radar get for the UNLV staff.
He's still learning the English language and the American game, having played on the AAU circuit in the states for only a couple of months after moving in with his uncle in Las Vegas seven months ago. When he signed, it seemed apparent that he was a likely redshirt candidate this season, but Kruger said no decisions have been made.
"It's totally up in the air," he said. "We'll go into practices (in October) expecting everyone to play, and make redshirt decisions a few days before the first game (on Nov. 12 against UC-Riverside)."