Rebels basketball:

Former UNLV players go undrafted; Lobo top Mountain West pick in NBA Draft

Cameron Bairstow joins former teammate in Chicago, SDSU’s Xavier Thames one of last picks and Nick Johnson continues Findlay Prep’s draft-night presence


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV forwards Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith react during the final minutes of their game against New Mexico on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, at the Thomas & Mack Center. New Mexico won 68-56.

Updated Thursday, June 26, 2014 | 9:27 p.m.

This always seemed like a possibility when the decisions were made, but going undrafted is certainly not what UNLV's Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith had in mind when they left school a year early.

Neither player heard his name called tonight at the 2014 NBA Draft in Brooklyn, N.Y. Ditto for former Rebel and Oregon Duck Mike Moser, who nearly entered the draft two years ago after his sophomore season at UNLV. All three will likely have a chance to play in the NBA Summer League next month.

As for those who were selected, at this time last year New Mexico’s Cameron Bairstow probably wasn’t even a blip on most NBA teams’ radar. Thanks to a monster senior season he now will have the chance to earn a roster spot alongside former Lobo teammate Tony Snell in Chicago.

In a surprise move, Bairstow was the first Mountain West player selected when the Bulls took him at No. 49 overall in the second round. Bairstow averaged 20.4 points on 55.6 percent shooting with 7.4 rebounds per game for New Mexico. As a junior he had averaged 9.7 points on 45.6 percent shooting and weighed several pounds less with fewer post moves.

The Bulls picked Snell at No. 20 overall last year. Snell appeared in 77 games, averaging 4.5 points in 16 minutes per game.

The guy who barely edged out Bairstow for Mountain West Player of the Year honors was the second-to-last selection, with San Diego State's Xavier Thames getting drafted at No. 59 by the Toronto Raptors and then traded to the Brooklyn Nets. He's the third Aztec drafted in the past four years, following Jamaal Franklin in 2013 and this year's NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in 2011.

A few picks earlier tonight, Arizona guard Nick Johnson went 42nd overall to the Houston Rockets, becoming the sixth former Findlay Prep player drafted in the last five years.

Johnson, the Pac-12 Player of the Year for the Wildcats, averaged 16.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game as a junior last season. The other Pilots drafted in recent years include Avery Bradley in 2010, Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph and DeAndre Liggins in 2011 and UNLV’s Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 overall pick in 2013.

And away from most of the action at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, former Desert Pines guard Pierre Jackson found a new home. The Philadelphia 76ers selected Louisville guard Russ Smith with the 47th overall pick and then traded him to the New Orleans Pelicans for Jackson.

On Wednesday, Jackson was at Grant Sawyer Middle School playing in the Desert Reign Pro City League.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at

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