Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 | 2 a.m.
By now you may have seen Wednesday’s Twitter photo (above) showing Bishop Gorman High big man Stephen Zimmerman’s haul of letters from UNLV. It made the rounds to several national blogs and generated exactly the type of publicity the Rebels were going for.
Eighty-six of them arrived at the Zimmermans’ door, which actually means a few got lost in the shuffle. Zimmerman’s stepmom, Lori, said Rebels assistant coach Todd Simon told her the school sent 100.
But Zimmerman wasn’t the Rebels’ only mass-mail target. Gorman teammate Chase Jeter, also a top prospect in the class of 2015, got the same treatment.
“It’s cool to look at,” Jeter said Thursday while sitting next to his pile of more than 80 letters.
So far those two locals are the only recruits to get UNLV’s envelopes en masse. Sending a total of 200 letters cost UNLV $92 in postage.
Jeter said he hasn’t counted them all but has opened nearly 10, and so far each one contains something different. Some have inspirational quotes while others provide info on the history of the program.
Jeter is already familiar with the Rebels’ past success — his father, Chris, played with coach Dave Rice and assistant Stacey Augmon — but the stack of letters does serve as a reminder that the Rebels want him to help continue that legacy.
“It’s a reinforcement,” Jeter said. “They’re after me hard.”
Sending recruits a mountain of letters isn’t entirely unique. A couple of SEC football players received more than 100 each earlier this year, and in 2010 Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle sent a shoebox full of letters to guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
Per NCAA rules, UNLV coaches aren’t allowed to comment specifically on recruits. However, Rice did offer his general thoughts on the coaching staff’s approach to reaching out to potential Rebels.
“The biggest thing for us is to try to find that perfect balance for each recruit so he knows what a priority he is without over-recruiting,” Rice said.
Apparently 100 letters isn’t overdoing it, at least according to the coaching staff. One of the benefits of adding Simon to the staff is that, as Findlay Prep’s coach, he was on the other side of the recruiting process only a few months ago.
Simon has seen dozens of top recruits over the past several years react to the way they were recruited, and now he can use that information to help UNLV. And for Zimmerman, the extra postage comes during a big week.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino visited his home Wednesday, and Kentucky coach John Calipari is expected to do the same today. On Thursday, Kansas coach Bill Self attended practice.
With that type of attention on the 7-footer, it’s understandable why UNLV would go to such lengths to make an impact. However, Zimmerman said he had only looked at four or five of UNLV’s letters, although his family did open each one and confirm they're all different. Zimmerman's usually doing something else like watching TV while he goes through his standard amount of mail.
“I have three shoeboxes full of mail,” Zimmerman said, “and I wear size 18.”
So does he hope other schools follow suit with 50 or more letters in a single day?
“I don’t want to say I hope not,” Zimmerman said.
He didn't finish that thought but the message was clear. Still, the eye-opening tactic reinforced UNLV’s pursuit for both guys during a key time in their recruitment. And in case any players they meet want to compare school interest, the Gorman duo has a trump card. Well, actually they have nearly 200 of them.
“This is something to remember,” Jeter said.