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July 6, 2022

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Loaded junior class wows coaches at Gorman, waits to see what happens at UNLV

Shabazz Muhammad, Ben Carter and Rosco Allen all paying close attention to search for Kruger’s replacement

Bishop Gorman v. Western Basketball

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Bishop Gorman’s Shabazz Muhammad looks to pass against Western during a Jan. 4 game at Gorman. Muhammad is one of several 2012 prospects the UNLV coaching staff will be tailing this weekend when a handful of major AAU tournaments will all take place in Las Vegas. Muhammad and his Dream Vision squad will participate in the adidas Super 64 at Rancho High.

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While the UNLV men's basketball coaching situation is still in limbo, the recruiting world keeps moving, as evidenced by the scene on Thursday afternoon at Bishop Gorman.

The Gaels held an intense 90-minute workout, which just so happened to fall on the first day of the spring contact period, in which college coaches can talk with prospective recruits.

That said, given Gorman's loaded upcoming senior class, the gym provided quite a scene.

Among the coaches in attendance were Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina's Roy Williams and New Mexico's Steve Alford. The sideline was also peppered with representatives from the likes of Cal, Stanford, Arizona, Memphis and Boston College.

And there was Dave Rice, who on Wednesday interviewed for the vacant UNLV position. Rice, currently BYU's associate head coach, had planned to be in attendance at the workout for quite some time and on Thursday night flew back to Provo to await a decision from the UNLV brass.

UNLV Athletic Director Jim Livengood and other members of the school's administration wrapped up the interview process on Thursday, welcoming in Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coach and former UNLV standout Reggie Theus, followed by former Oregon head coach Ernie Kent. This came not long after a late Wednesday night interview with St. John's assistant coach Mike Dunlap.

While the Rebels were not represented by a coach, there were about 40 scarlet-clad fans who showed up in support of their school, which star guard Shabazz Muhammad said resonated with him.

But the 6-foot-6 top-tier prospect, who was the one guys like Coach K and Williams came out to see, said that while still interested in UNLV, he's paying close attention to who gets the job.

Muhammad has long-standing relationships with both Rice and Theus, who are considered the two candidates with the best shot at landing the job. He said he likes that both would implement an uptempo style that he prefers.

And he's not the only Gael waiting out what happens with the UNLV search.

"I'm online all the time seeing what's happening," said senior-to-be Ben Carter. "I'm talking to coach (Grant) Rice all the time seeing what's happening. I'm definitely interested in who it will be. I know coach Theus or coach Rice would do really well.

"I know a couple of our guys were bummed because they had such a great relationship with (Kruger). He'll be missed, but we're looking forward to whoever they pick."

Carter only became a primary target of Lon Kruger's staff at UNLV about six months ago, but he and Dave Rice, whose brother Grant is the Gorman coach, go much further back.

"He actually offered me my first scholarship. I still remember that moment," he said.

It came just before Carter's sophomore season at Gorman, when, after losing in the championship game of a team camp at BYU, Rice extended the offer. Since then, several West Coast schools have jumped on board. It's only in the last year that Carter has risen from nowhere to become a highly coveted prospect in the eyes of several schools.

Another longtime target of both Rice and UNLV is Carter's running-mate on the wing, Rosco Allen.

Allen put on a show of his own on Thursday, showing off a sweet stroke from long range and an ability to finish in a variety of ways in close. As for his recruitment, he said that things are still wide open, as his list, which currently contains several high-profile programs along the West Coast, will be trimmed down this summer. He hopes to make a decision before the start of his senior campaign.

"(Kruger leaving) was a total surprise," he said. "With UNLV, it depends on who they get. I need to know who the coach is and rebuild a connection, hopefully. But I'm still interested."

The workout finished with a healthy portion of full-court drills, in which Muhammad showed off the sheer athleticism and skill that had college coaches watching intently.

Will he remain interested in UNLV? That might depend on how the next few days play out.

"UNLV, with coach Kruger, had been recruiting those guys for a while," Grant Rice said. "Shabazz, Rosco for definitely over a year, and Ben more recently. They're paying attention, and we'll see what happens in the next week."

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