Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Friday, April 12, 2013 | 2:35 p.m.
Updated Friday, April 12, 2013 | 5:20 p.m.
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UNLV associate head coach Justin Hutson is likely heading back to San Diego State, according to UNLV coach Dave Rice.
The U-T San Diego reported Friday afternoon that Hutson could finalize a deal by next week to return to the place where he spent five seasons before leaving for UNLV in 2011. Rice commented on the situation later Friday evening, saying he’s operating on the assumption Hutson is gone.
“Justin did a great job of helping us build the foundation of our program, we’re very confident moving forward,” Rice said. “Justin’s a friend and we wish him the best.”
Hutson would replace Tony Bland, who had originally replaced Hutson. Bland recently left to become the associate head coach at USC under Andy Enfield.
Hutson came to UNLV for a better title in what everyone figured was a springboard to his first head-coaching job. Hutson was recently a finalist for the head position at Cal State Fullerton, but that job went to Arizona State associate head coach Dedrique Taylor.
Rice’s staff had stayed intact for two years up to this point, although there were other close calls. Last year, Stacey Augmon turned down an opportunity to join the Charlotte Bobcats staff, and last week Heath Schroyer turned down an offer from new UCLA coach Steve Alford.
Hutson wouldn’t keep the same associate head coach title at SDSU because Brian Dutcher is the head-coach-in-waiting under coach Steve Fisher. Hutson would be the next in line, though, so if Fisher retires, it would likely put Hutson in the same approximate position he’s currently in, just with SDSU instead of UNLV.
Rice, who’s traveling to Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Saturday to speak at a Nike coaches clinic, said he doesn’t yet have a timetable for replacing Hutson.
Bennett taking classes online
After making a tearful goodbye to UNLV, freshman Anthony Bennett returned to Canada to begin preparations for the NBA Draft. He can do that because Bennett is taking mostly online classes this semester.
Bennett will return for some in-person tests, but most of his classes will be completed online, which he can obviously do from anywhere. This is important because if Bennett doesn’t complete his courses, it could negatively impact UNLV’s academic progress rate, which would penalize the university.
Morant out 4-6 weeks with broken finger
On Wednesday, freshman Demetris Morant broke the middle finger on his right hand while grabbing the ball during a game of pickup. He had successful surgery Friday morning, which included putting a pin in his finger.
He’s expected to make a full recovery by about mid May.