Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 | 8 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 | 10 p.m.
- UNLV eyeing two new PG transfer targets in Gary Franklin Jr., Reggie Smith (1-7-2011)
- Findlay Prep sophomore guard Nigel Williams-Goss verbally commits to UNLV (12-15-2010)
- Notre Dame (Mass.) Prep forward Grandy Glaze signs letter of intent to play at UNLV (11-11-2010)
- UCLA transfer Mike Moser wastes no time committing to UNLV after weekend visit (4-26-2010)
- 2010-11 UNLV Schedule
- All Sun UNLV men's basketball coverage
Las Vegas Sun reporters Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer break down the UNLV basketball team's big victory against TCU and look ahead to the Rebels' showdown next week at No. 6 San Diego State. Plus, a look at the newest Rebel - Marquette transfer Reggie Smith.
Reggie Smith already had a good idea that he'd fit in just fine at UNLV, but after watching the Rebels pick apart TCU on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center in 83-49 fashion, he was officially sold.
The Marquette transfer, who began looking for a new home just after Christmas, committed to the UNLV staff before leaving the arena, and will be on campus a week from Tuesday in time for the start of the spring semester.
The Harvey, Ill., native will be eligible at the conclusion of the fall 2011 semester as a redshirt freshman and will have 2.5 years of eligibility remaining.
Smith had also considered Nebraska, Arkansas, North Carolina State and Florida State, but his only official visit was this weekend's trip to Las Vegas.
"Just seeing them play, I'd never really seen them," Smith told the Sun. "I've watched a couple of their games but was never really paying attention. Seeing it up close really got me. They run, they pressure the ball full-court. That's what I was pretty used to coming from Marquette. We were pretty disciplined about that.
"It felt like high school again, just trying to figure out where I was going to go. I got the same relief after choosing this time. Now I can relax, go to school and have fun."
Before the game, Smith said that he had a good feeling from the visit, which was going better than even he anticipated. He added that he intended to make a decision "by Sunday night, if not sooner."
After being with the team during pre-game activities, Smith sat 10 rows off of the floor across from the UNLV bench with Mike Moser, who transferred in from UCLA following last season and will be eligible at the start of the 2011-12 season as a sophomore.
Smith saw the Rebels play the way they had earlier in the season during their hot start, creating offense with defense and scoring at will in transition, which more than appealed to the 6-foot, 170-pounder.
He comes in with a reputation of being a top-level athlete who can change a game on the defensive end but is still progressing as an all-around offensive threat. Still, his outstanding athleticism makes him a dangerous slasher already.
As a senior at Thornton Township (Ill.) High, Smith averaged 18.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game, shooting 47 percent from the floor. He was ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 29 point guard in the 2010 senior class and the No. 112 overall prospect.
The coaching staff was sold on Smith's demeanor and personality after getting a chance to spend time with him over the first 24 hours of his visit and likes the fact that he brings the toughness and explosiveness typically found in players from Chicago to a team comprised mostly of West Coast talent. His addition will also give UNLV a spot to start from when trying to recruit the Chicago area, which it's attempted to do more aggressively in recent years.
Smith's AAU coach, Mike Irvin, told the Sun earlier this week that he was pushing Smith to take a hard look at heading to UNLV, as he thought it'd do him some good in terms of getting away from the distractions and potential pitfalls of playing near home. Irvin said he reminded Smith of the success the last prospect his program sent out west had — former Gonzaga standout guard Jeremy Pargo, who is currently starring professionally overseas.
"I really thought about it," Smith said. "There wasn't anything to do at home. Where I'm from, there's a lot of trouble.
"My family — my mom, especially — wanted me to get out of there, get away from home and be a man, thinking that would help me in the long run."
Irvin pointed out that he thought even being at Marquette, less than two hours north of Chicago in Milwaukee, Wisc., was too close for Smith. Still, Smith showed some promise with the Golden Eagles.
In eight games for coach Buzz Williams, he started five, averaging 1.4 points, 1.6 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 9.9 minutes an outing. However, after a Dec. 11 home loss to Wisconsin, he fell ill. It turned out to be his last appearance for Marquette, as he announced his intent to transfer on Dec. 27.
Landing Smith ends the search for a young point guard prospect by Lon Kruger and his staff. He'll likely be groomed to vie for minutes at the point in a reserve role once eligible next season, then possibly as a starter in 2012-13 after the Rebels lose current junior Oscar Bellfield to graduation.
Smith joins a 2011 class that already includes Moser along with 6-foot-6 Notre Dame (Mass.) Prep forward Grandy Glaze.
He added that the weather in Las Vegas is a nice bonus and is glad to be getting away from the harsh winters in the Midwest.
The playing style, though, was ultimately the draw. Seeing it up close sealed the deal.
"I believe they're really a tough, great defensive team," he said. "I could bring that to the team as well, and it'll only make us stronger."