Monday, Jan. 7, 2013 | 10:45 p.m.
- After third-quarter outburst from Findlay Prep, rivalry game isn’t as exciting as past years
- Rebels return to the national rankings at No. 24 in AP poll
- UNLV Leftovers: Nonconference finale featured fantastic offensive performances
- Rebels prepare for new challenges after wrapping up nonconference season
- Rebels to unveil a new starting lineup when they take on Cal State Bakersfield
- Atmosphere at the Mack a big selling point for newest UNLV commit
- California point guard commits to UNLV on official visit
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
Sitting at half-court in the South Point Arena on Monday night, UNLV coach Dave Rice had a good view of the future.
Rice was one of several college coaches, including UCLA’s Ben Howland and BYU’s Dave Rose, on hand to take in Findlay Prep’s 65-45 victory against Bishop Gorman. The game that drew upwards of $200 last year was devoid of the same star power this year but it was still an important matchup in the recruiting world.
There were a lot of Division I players on the court, and three of them have a connection to the Rebels. Findlay’s Christian Wood, who scored 19 points and had 10 rebounds, is already committed to UNLV. He’s one of four players — including Dantley Walker, Jelan Kendrick and recent commit Kendall Smith — set to join the team next season.
“(Wood’s) a terrific shooter from long-range yet he’s added to his game,” Rice said of the 6-foot-10 senior. “He’s getting stronger and just the experience of being part of a high-level high school program is going to give him a chance to step in and play minutes for us right away.”
Here’s the sequence that best sums up Wood: Two made free throws (he was 10-for-10 on the night), a 3-pointer, two blocks and rebound, all within basically two possessions.
“I’ve still got a lot to work on in my game, but that’s what I can show,” Wood said.
Like the rest of the Pilots, Wood looked out of sync against Gorman’s zone defense in the first half. When Findlay could get out and run it looked like the vastly superior team and that’s the type of style that eventually allowed Findlay to break the game open with a 21-7 third quarter. Wood was a big part of it.
Like Mike Moser can do for UNLV, Wood can go up, grab a rebound and then start his own fast break down the court. It’s a useful skill that Wood certainly hasn’t mastered — he often gets out of control in traffic — but there are flashes of it there.
“He’s so unique with his length,” Findlay coach Todd Simon said. “Sometimes I think he underestimates himself on how high he can go get something. He’s been great.”
That plus the easy finish on a second-half alley-oop offer glimpses that confirm why UNLV fans are so excited to add Wood to the program next season. Much like current Rebels redshirt freshman Demetris Morant, a Gorman grad, Wood would benefit from a year in the weight room. The difference is Wood is stepping into a much more open situation in the front court — Moser, Findlay grad Anthony Bennett and Quintrell Thomas will likely all be gone — and he’s also much more developed on offense than Morant was at this stage.
Like Dave Rice said, Wood will get a chance to contribute immediately.
Just by stepping on the court, Zimmermann affected the game as much as any other player in Monday’s game.
“He battled and took it right to them,” said Gorman coach Grant Rice, Dave’s brother. “He was as good as anybody out there. The stats won’t show it, but defensively they had to make some adjustments because of him.”
Standing at 7-feet, Zimmermann stood his ground in the paint and didn’t bite on fakes. Findlay’s big men had to know where he was at whether he was guarding them or not, as did the Pilot guards on drives into the lane.
Offensively, Zimmerman struggled to find much rhythm against a physical man-to-man defense that tried, and mostly succeeded to push him away from the basket.
He may have lost his cool in the second half when he was whistled for an elbow that hit Wood and kick started that nice sequence, but that’s part of the learning process.
Jeter, the son of former Rebel Chris Jeter, didn’t have the same impact as the other two guys. Still, at 6-foot-10 and maybe a tad over 200 pounds, he’s got the build and athleticism of someone worthy of high-level interest.
When Zimmerman was off the court it was Jeter who stepped into center of the zone defense and showed some good instincts.
“Chase is coming around,” Grant Rice said. “He went out there and played hard. A lot of good things ahead for Chase Jeter.”
Located South of the Strip, South Point is a hot spot frequented by locals. The hotel-casino is decorated in a Pacific Coast feel, with golds, reds and browns, mixing an island feel with the ambiance of Southern California.
Guests rooms feature 42-inch flat screen TVs, iPod docking stations and plush linens. Outside, the property features landscaped gardens, a hospitality to entertain poolside and a sand volleyball court.
When it comes to gaming, the South Point has more than 120,000 square feet of casino games, as well as a separate race books and sports books, a bingo and poker room. South Point also has some family friendly features, like a 64-lane bowling center, an arcade and a 16-screen movie theater.
Dining options range from an upscale meal at Michael's Gourmet to ice cream at Kate's Korner. The 24-hour Coronado Cafe is the perfect spot for a late-night craving, which include six midnight to 6 a.m. "graveyard" specials. Other restaurants include the Big Sur Oyster Bar, Don Vito's, Garden Buffet, Seattle's Best Coffee House and the Del Mar Deli.
One of South Points more unique features is the Equestrian Center and Arena, a first for Vegas. The Equestrian Center holds a variety of events, from college basketball to Championship Bull Riding.