Friday, June 8, 2012 | 2 a.m.
To fans of the early-'90s Rebels, Stacey Augmon may always be known as Plastic Man. Other monikers include Mr. Augmon, 32 and, simply, Stacey. But the most common one these days is Coach, a title that took Augmon a while to realize was directed at him.
“When I was in Denver and first became a coach, it was a little weird, but after a couple of years, I caught on to it,” Augmon said.
On Friday night, Augmon adds another title: Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer.
Augmon, the former Rebel, 15-year NBA veteran and current UNLV assistant, headlines the five-member induction class of 2012, which also includes former Rebel soccer player Simon Keith; former high school coach and administrator Frank Nails; the Las Vegas Founders Golf Foundation; and Duke Durden, a respected boxing executive who died in 2000.
This is technically Augmon’s second induction, as the 1989-90 national champions went in as a team in 2001. But Augmon didn’t attend that ceremony, so this one will feel like the first time. And Augmon said a few other members of that team are slated to be in town, too, including Larry Johnson, who was inducted individually in 2008 and will present Augmon at Friday night’s reception at the Orleans Arena.
When Augmon steps on the stage, there won’t be any reaching for notes. Never one for using too many words, Augmon will look out into the audience and say, however briefly, what’s on his mind.
“I’m just going to go off the top of my head,” Augmon said. “When you feel passionate about something, those names should just roll off the tip of the tongue.”
The night is a chance for everyone involved to look back and reflect on the accomplishments of a few individuals or groups who affected the community in myriad ways. When the crowd looks back on Augmon’s career, it will be the first time he has also done so in quite awhile.
“I don’t do it much,” Augmon said, “but now would be a good time to do it in that kind of atmosphere.”
What he’ll see is a fierce competitor at both ends of the floor who played in a system built to outrun and outlast its competition. And that’s exactly the type of game Augmon is trying to help former teammate and UNLV coach Dave Rice bring to the 2012-13 squad.
The “UNLV bug,” as Augmon calls it, is everywhere in Las Vegas, and it likely won’t wilt in the summer heat. The surprising success despite a disappointing end to Rice’s first season combined with the Rebels’ excellent recruiting class has fans feeling as confident as they did when Augmon wore No. 32.
He’s excited and he believes UNLV is capable of surprising a lot of people, Augmon said, but he also knows there are a lot of expectations. In fact, that may have him more amped up than anything else.
“There’s pressure, but I’ve been through that before, both as a player and a coach,” Augmon said. “That motivates me. That makes me want to go harder, work longer hours.”
His family may buck at that last part, but overall, Augmon said they’ve been very happy with the move back to Vegas, or the “right decision” as he called it. Augmon and his wife, Leslye, have seven children, and their input was very important as he considered Rice’s offer last year. Now as he prepares to enter his second season, Augmon sounds like he couldn’t imagine being anywhere but UNLV.
There was a time when that seemed far-fetched, as Augmon kept his distance from the university after coach Jerry Tarkanian’s ouster in 1992. But years have passed, administrations have changed, and Augmon no longer carries around any grudge.
“That was a sour note that’s pretty much left my head,” Augmon said. “… The people who were involved in that are gone. The president’s gone, coach Tark’s gone; it’s a new era.”
One he’s helping to shape and build.
With one of the deepest frontcourts in the country at his disposal, Augmon will have ample opportunity to create dominant, big men at both ends of the floor, just like the guy he’ll see in highlights at the induction ceremony.
The further he gets away from his playing days, the more Augmon will become the coach that once caught him off guard. His past was hall-of-fame good, as this induction proves, but Augmon is just as excited about what’s coming in the future.