Published Monday, Aug. 19, 2013 | 11:45 a.m.
Updated Monday, Aug. 19, 2013 | 12:16 p.m.
The UNLV basketball team received a verbal commitment today from 2013 power forward Jamal Aytes of Southern California, adding depth to the Rebels’ inexperienced frontcourt.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Aytes, who picked the Rebels over Gonzaga, Arizona, West Virginia and BYU, caught the eye of coaches in late July playing for Dream Vision at the Adidas 64 at Rancho High in Las Vegas.
UNLV coaches were front and center for one of the marquee games of the tournament — Dream Vision against Mass Rivals, which featured Dream Vision’s Stephen Zimmerman and Goodluck Okonoboh in a battle of top prospects.
Aytes ended up stealing the show. He's a consensus three-star recruiting prospect and ranked No. 66 in the nation at his position by ESPN.com.
"They tell me I'm a matchup nightmare," Aytes said. "I can run the floor, guard multiple positions and grab rebounds."
That's exactly what UNLV was looking for with its last scholarship. Aytes will add depth to a frontcourt with unproven players such as redshirt freshman Demetris Morant and true freshman Chris Wood and sophomore Savon Goodman. He plans to compete for minutes immediately and said coaches told him they don't want him to redshirt.
“Coach Rice is an awesome coach," he said. "Very nice and truthful with me. Told me I have to work hard and earn everything.”
Aytes graduated from JSerra Catholic High School this summer but said he played on the AAU circuit because he wasn't happy with his scholarship offers — Miami, Boston College and Kansas State.
He quickly attracted UNLV and others, waiting until one week before students return to classes to commit. He plans on registering later today.
"It was kind of hectic with calls and text messages the last few weeks, but it was all worth it. This is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders," he said.