Monday, March 9, 2009 | midnight
Ricky Sobers helped lay the foundation for what would become an era of greatness for UNLV basketball. Before Sobers arrived in Las Vegas, UNLV had no tradition of basketball excellence and few people around the country knew about the Runnin’ Rebels.
Before Sobers, UNLV had no All-Americans. No first-round NBA draft picks. No national prominence.
He came to Las Vegas as part of Jerry Tarkanian’s first recruiting class, and quickly became a star in the desert. Sobers benefited from the up-tempo game Tark liked to play, and Sobers’ speed allowed him to effectively run the fast break.
Sobers grew up playing basketball in New York and went to a junior college in Idaho before coming to UNLV. Once he arrived in Vegas, Sobers wasted no time becoming an impact player.
He only played two seasons in Vegas, but his contribution to the history of UNLV basketball is great. He was the first UNLV basketball player to become an All-American, which he did in 1975.
During Sobers second season with the Rebels, UNLV advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. In his two years with UNLV, the Rebels collected an overall record of 44-11, and that was before the school had arrived as a powerhouse.
After his two seasons with UNLV, Sobers turned pro. The Phoenix Suns drafted him in the first round of the 1975 draft, making him the first UNLV player to become a first-round NBA pick. Sobers played eleven NBA seasons with five teams, scoring just under 11,000 points.