Monday, Aug. 29, 2011 | 10 p.m.
Demetris Morant Dunk
- Gorman’s Rosco Allen to take official visit to UNLV next week (8-28-2011)
- Katin Reinhardt commits to UNLV, making major statement for Dave Rice and staff (8-11-2011)
- A Day in the Life: On the recruiting trail with UNLV coach Dave Rice (7-26-2011)
- Baltimore PG Daquan Cook becomes UNLV’s first 2012 hoops commit (7-21-2011)
UNLV's 2012 recruiting class gained its third member on Monday night, but it received its first dose of local flavor from the loaded senior crop in its own backyard.
Six-foot-9 Bishop Gorman forward Demetris Morant gave first-year coach Dave Rice and his staff a verbal commitment. Morant said his decision ultimately came down to one between UNLV and San Diego State, while he also held scholarship offers from Memphis, Texas A&M, New Mexico, DePaul, Nevada-Reno and several others.
He was set to take a visit to SDSU this weekend, but decided Monday he needed to bring his recruitment to a close.
"I just felt that I was ready," he said. "The biggest thing was the coaching staff. I just get along with them really well and I can see that they'll treat me like family when I get there. Also, I've been hearing about the style of play they'll have, and I think I'll fit in really well within that offense."
The high-flying Morant projects out as a post player within Rice's uptempo system, where his off-the-charts athleticism will be key for him as a rebounder, shot-blocker and finisher in transition. One potential comparison drawing from UNLV history would be George Ackles, who was a key figure in the paint for the Rebels in their glory years during the late 1980s and early '90s.
He'll be looked at technically as a local recruit, but Morant was not born and raised in the Las Vegas Valley. He grew up in Miami, then moved to Arizona for his sophomore year of high school. He moved in with family in Las Vegas before last season, then averaged eight points, five rebounds and three blocks per game as a reserve for the Gaels.
Morant's untapped potential has helped him move up on the radars of several scouting services. Rivals.com has him ranked as the No. 150 overall prospect in the 2012 senior crop.
His outstanding leaping ability was also on display last spring when he placed fourth in the state in the high jump despite his basketball schedule taking away from his practice time on the track. He'll again likely compete in the high jump, long jump and triple jump once Gorman's hoops season comes to a close.
Morant will likely have a more expanded role for the Gaels this season and could squeeze himself into Grant Rice's starting lineup at center.
"He's going to really turn a lot of heads this year," the Gorman coach said. "The way (UNLV) plays, I really think he could play the four or the five, but I don't think you have to put a position on it. The way they'll play with the uptempo style and the running and the way they play on defense, he's going to really compete with his athleticism.
"People haven't seen what this kid can really do."
Morant said that a major focus for him this season will be continuing to develop his raw offensive game as much as possible. However, he said he won't make it a priority to try to sway the impending college decisions of his three high-profile senior teammates — Shabazz Muhammad, Rosco Allen and Ben Carter.
"That's up to them," he said.
All indications point to Muhammad and fellow UNLV targets Anthony Bennett and Winston Shepard from Findlay Prep waiting until the spring signing period to make their decisions.
Morant's commitment gives UNLV the developmental big man prospect it hoped to land in this class to go along with the two previous verbals from Baltimore point guard Daquan Cook and California combo guard Katin Reinhardt.
UNLV has two open scholarships remaining for its 2012 class, and expect the spotlight to now turn to Allen. His father, Daniel Allen, told the Sun on Sunday night that after taking an official visit to Stanford beginning Tuesday afternoon, they'll take an official trip to UNLV next Wednesday and Thursday, followed by an in-home visit with Rice and his staff next Friday night.
For more UNLV recruiting updates as they develop, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.