Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 | 11:33 a.m.
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UNLV’s recruiting success rate when it gets kids on campus is very high. That percentage ticked up again Friday morning when California senior guard Kendall Smith announced his commitment on Twitter after attending Thursday’s Rebels victory.
Smith and his family were on campus for an official visit, and there were plenty of signs things could go well for the Rebels, including Smith tweeting days before that he was eager to get the recruiting process over with. He was also considering UCLA and UConn.
A 6-foot-2, 165-pound point guard who can score, Smith averages about 22 points for Deer Valley High in Antioch, Calif. When he plays AAU basketball for the powerhouse Oakland Soldiers, Smith is more of a distributor than a scorer, and that’s the role the Rebels likely see him filling.
With senior Anthony Marshall's impending departure, Smith will come in and compete for the point guard spot with freshmen Katin Reinhardt and Daquan Cook, as well as fellow class of 2013 commit Jelan Kendrick. At 6-foot-7, Kendrick isn’t a traditional point guard and could very well move elsewhere, but he’ll likely get a shot, the same as the others. The former Ole Miss and Memphis player is averaging 11.7 points per game with a 1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio for Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa, and next year he’ll come to Las Vegas as a redshirt junior.
Smith is the fourth member of the current recruiting class, joining Kendrick, Findlay Prep forward Chris Wood and Lincoln High guard Dantley Walker, who signed a letter of intent two years ago and is serving a Mormon mission.
That fills the roster for departing seniors Marshall, Justin Hawkins, Quintrell Thomas and Mike Moser, whom the team is treating as a senior. Assuming freshman Anthony Bennett also jumps to the NBA draft, the Rebels will have one more scholarship available next year.
UNLV has been recruiting five-star big man Jermaine Lawrence, who was on campus after Thanksgiving and is choosing between UNLV, Cincinnati and St. John’s. Lawrence played AAU basketball with UNLV freshman Savon Goodman.
Smith’s commitment helps the Rebels bounce back from missing out on Isaac Hamilton, who was the rare elite recruit to visit Las Vegas and then pick someone else, choosing UTEP. The bonus for the Rebels is that Smith could help pull in fellow Oakland Soldier Stanley Johnson, a five-star forward in the class of 2014.
Now UNLV just needs to get him on campus.