Friday, May 25, 2012 | 2:37 p.m.
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UConn transfer Roscoe Smith has committed to UNLV, bringing another big body to an already loaded front court. CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman first reported the story Friday afternoon.
"It’s a big deal to add a guy with his experience," UNLV coach Dave Rice said. "... He’s been coached by one of the greatest coaches of all-time."
Smith announced last month that he was leaving the Huskies and coach Jim Calhoun, along with several other players, in the wake of an NCAA ban on postseason play due to academics in the upcoming season. Because of that, Smith, a 6-foot-8 forward who started on UConn’s national championship team two years ago, may be eligible to play immediately. UNLV will submit a waiver to the NCAA to make that case.
"If it works, great. If it doesn’t work then he does still have a redshirt year and then two years of eligibility," Rice said.
Either way, Smith is a likely redshirt candidate, along with freshman forward Demetris Morant, because of UNLV's significant depth in the front court. The Rebels already have Mike Moser, Anthony Bennett, Carlos Lopez and Quintrell Thomas, and Khem Birch becomes eligible in December.
Smith plays a similar position to Moser and would be a logical replacement next season when Moser is expected to leave early for the NBA.
Rice said he didn't know yet who he would use his two planned redshirts on, saying only "We’ll do what’s best for our program and what’s best for the individual players."
After Reggie Smith’s decision last week to transfer, the addition of Roscoe Smith still leaves UNLV with one scholarship available entering the season. Rice will likely leave that spot available for a possible midseason transfer, like Khem Birch did last season.
Speaking of Birch, he got a lot of credit for helping to bring Anthony Bennett to UNLV and he may deserve dap for Smith, too. Birch hosted Smith when he had an overnight visit at UNLV last week.
"We felt very good about the visit," Rice said. "He got the information that he needed to make the best decision for him. Having said that, I didn’t necessarily know what the result was going to be."
Smith was also considering several other major programs, including Maryland, which is close to his Baltimore home. He averaged 5.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in 22 minutes per game over his two seasons at UConn. Listed at 205 pounds, he is more comfortable at the small forward spot but can also play power forward. Rice said that he figured Smith would play both of those plus a little shooting guard by the time he's done at UNLV.
An already busy and buzzy offseason is now turned up to another level. The city is bursting with excitement and fans would probably line up for hours just to see this team practice. And at the center of all that is Rice, who now must try to control the runaway train he sent speeding down the tracks.
"It’s our job to keep our guys grounded," Rice said, "and understand how hard we have to work to live up to those expectations."