Friday, Aug. 9, 2013 | 12:29 p.m.
UNLV coach Dave Rice has said many times he doesn’t plan to use the team’s open scholarship before the 2013-14 season begins. One game may have changed his mind.
On the morning of Thursday, July 25, in Rancho High’s main gym, Dream Vision defeated Mass Rivals in a highly anticipated Adidas Super 64 matchup, at least as far as UNLV was concerned. Multiple Rebels coaches plus a small contingent of fans showed up to see UNLV targets Stephen Zimmerman (DV) and Goodluck Okonoboh (MR) battle in the post.
While both of those guys had good moments, the game’s unquestioned star was Dream Vision’s unsigned class of 2013 forward Jamal Aytes. He dominated play at both ends, using his thick, 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame to clear space against taller and more athletic players like Okonoboh.
Fast-forward two weeks and Aytes is set to take an official visit to UNLV on Sunday and Monday, a source confirmed. UNLV coaches aren’t allowed to comment on recruits, per NCAA rules.
His potential addition would fill the 13th scholarship spot while adding more depth to a mostly inexperienced front court. The Rebels have centers Khem Birch and Carlos Lopez-Sosa, who’s the lone senior on this year’s team, but after that, it’s a lot of talented but unproven players in the post.
Redshirt freshman Demetris Morant (Bishop Gorman High) and true freshman Chris Wood (Findlay Prep) will both get looks at center and power forward, and Roscoe Smith can play the power forward spot, though he’ll get more minutes at small forward. Sophomore Savon Goodman is the only predominantly power forward on the roster.
After that game against Mass Rivals, Aytes told another reporter that he had already taken visits to BYU and Boston College and that he planned to check out Gonzaga and West Virginia.
UNLV was a late addition to the itinerary, likely due at least in part to his stellar performance at the final event of the summer season. Everyone came away from Rancho impressed with him, including the highly touted Okonoboh, who was asked about playing against Zimmerman.
“He’s a really good player but the guy I’m really impressed with is, what’s his name right there?” Okonoboh asked while pointing to Aytes, who was doing another interview. “Yeah, he’s pretty good. He was the player I was really looking at.”
For now, so is UNLV.