Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 | 7:35 p.m.
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UNLV basketball received two signed national letters of intent Wednesday, officially moving the Rebels closer to filling out the roster for the 2013-14 season. It also moves the team closer to an all-Smith lineup.
High school senior Kendall Smith and juco transfer DeVille Smith both signed and sent in their letters on the first day of the spring signing period, UNLV coach Dave Rice announced Wednesday evening. They will have the option of enrolling at UNLV for summer classes and will be on campus no later than August.
The duo joins namesake Roscoe Smith on the roster, although none of them are related. Roscoe Smith and DeVille Smith will both be juniors while Kendall Smith will be a true freshman after graduating from Deer Valley High in Antioch, Calif.
“We are excited that Kendall Smith is a Runnin’ Rebel,” Rice said. “He is a winner and is extremely versatile.”
Kendall Smith, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound point guard, averaged 27.5 points, 6.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game as a senior while also shooting 46 percent from the field. However, when he played for the Oakland Soldiers in the summer, his points were much less while his assists ballooned even more.
“He is committed to team and capable of taking over a game or making plays for others,” Rice said.
DeVille Smith played at Mississippi State and then Southwest Mississippi Community College after graduating from Callaway High in Jackson, Miss., in 2011. A 5-foot-11, 175-pound point guard, DeVille Smith left the Bulldogs because of a coaching change and this past season averaged 16.7 points, 5.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and two steals per game. A speedy guard, DeVille Smith is also an excellent shooter, hitting 52 percent from the field, 42 percent behind the three-point line (47-for-112) and 78 percent at the free throw line.
“He is a great competitor who makes the players around him better,” Rice said. “He brings valuable experience and is a terrific teammate. He will be a tremendous pressure defender and very effective in our transition system.”
Kendall Smith and DeVille Smith will both be competing for the starting point guard spot, as will fellow incoming transfer Jelan Kendrick, who signed his letter in the fall. The other candidates for the job are returners Daquan Cook and Katin Reinhardt, though there’s a very good chance one of the new guys will start out in that role. Kendall Smith can also play shooting guard and Kendrick can play on the wing while DeVille Smith’s natural spot is at the point.
UNLV’s five-man recruiting class is now complete. The other two filling it out are Findlay Prep forward Christian Wood and Dantley Walker, who signed in 2011 before serving a two-year LDS mission.
This pretty much takes care of the personnel for next season. If everyone stayed the Rebels would have one too many scholarship players (14), but junior Mike Moser is expected to transfer to a Pac-12 school after graduating this summer, leaving UNLV right on the number.
Next up is figuring out who’s going to help the new guys get acclimated to the college game as Rice searches for an assistant to fill the spot left by Justin Hutson’s departure to San Diego State. There is no timetable for the decision.