Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 | 2 a.m.
UNLV sophomore forward Savon Goodman won’t play for the Rebels basketball team this season. That’s about all we know for certain at this point.
Beyond that, there are still questions about what exactly will happen to Goodman as the legal process surrounding his multiple felony charges plays out, what UNLV coach Dave Rice will do as a result of that, and how the Rebels will play this upcoming season without a guy who expected to be in the rotation.
With an eye toward those major questions marks, here are some quick thoughts on each storyline:
What it means for Goodman: Obviously, none of this is good. How this plays out depends largely on Goodman, who could deny everything, simply accept fault for his actions, or reach a plea deal by offering information on his co-conspirator.
No matter what, he got here via a series of bad decisions that may have ended his UNLV career.
Everything was going well for Goodman this summer on the court. Months after the alleged incident, he played in the Desert Reign ProCity League and never scored fewer than 28 points in a game. One night, he scored 61 with rebounding numbers some put at more than 30.
That combined with Rice’s oft-professed affinity for him down the stretch last year and an opportunity at power forward seemed like it set up for a breakout season.
Now my guess is he’s done in Las Vegas. We know he’s out for the year no matter what comes of this, and while I believe he’ll get another chance to play college basketball, I don’t think it will be here.
Maybe I’m wrong and he’ll get a second chance with UNLV. In my experience, Goodman is a good kid, but I think both sides would benefit from a fresh start after this is over.
What it means for Rice: There is a lot of pressure on Rice right now.
This is his first major off-the-court issue as UNLV’s coach, so this is an opportunity to set the tone for the program. He already did that to a degree by sitting Goodman for the year nearly a week before his arraignment hearing.
Although many think that’s the only thing Rice could have done, there are plenty of examples of coaches saying they’ll let the legal process play out before making any real decisions. Rice has already made a decision and even signed a replacement in Jamal Aytes.
Rice has not said the Rebels last week got Aytes, a 6-foot-6 and 230-pound power forward, specifically because he knew this news was coming, but I believe it played a large role in the process.
Since Rice has already sat Goodman and has added the personnel to help fill his role, I think Rice will try to set a hard line for future Rebels by kicking Goodman off the team.
What it means for the Rebels: As discussed above, Aytes will have a chance to slide right into the power forward rotation. Aytes, fellow freshman Christian Wood and junior Roscoe Smith figure to be the primary players at that spot.
Smith practiced this past season at small forward, but he’s big enough — 6-foot-8 and 215 pounds — to go to power forward on occasion. He got a lot of minutes there in his first two years at Connecticut.
Wood has power forward height (6-10), but his listed weight of 210 pounds may still be generous. As he progresses, Wood’s post-up game could become more and more a part of his arsenal, but at Findlay Prep he liked to drift back for jumpers and to create space to take advantage of his athleticism.
Those two best fit the full-court press and uber-athletic lineup Rice has been building. Meanwhile, Aytes may be the best option for a bullish, back-to-the-basket power forward.
Aytes is great at cleaning up rebounds under the basket. He has a decent mid-range shot, too, but his abilities on the block are what set him apart from the crowd.
All of which is to say that even without Goodman, the Rebels have plenty of options.