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Rebels Basketball:

UNLV’s Ben Carter leaving for Michigan State

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UNLV forward Ben Carter (13) gives “high fives” to fans lined up the congratulate him after defeating Air Force 100-64 in their game at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday, January 16, 2016.

Ben Carter will spend his final collegiate season at Michigan State, he announced on Twitter today. Carter is on pace to graduate and will be eligible immediately for coach Tom Izzo.

Carter, a Bishop Gorman High grad, came back home after spending his first two years at Oregon. After sitting out as a redshirt, Carter was a key piece of the Rebels’ early season success in victories against Indiana and Oregon, and over 24 games, he averaged 8.6 points, 6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.

Carter’s season ended — and UNLV’s drastically changed — when he suffered a torn ACL in the first half a home loss against San Diego State on Jan. 30. That started a three-game losing streak, and as other injuries and distractions began to mount, the Rebels lost seven of their final 12 games.

When he was at Gorman, Carter played for coach Grant Rice, and when Carter announced his return to the desert, he cited a strong relationship with then-UNLV coach Dave Rice. The Rebels’ mid-season firing of Rice, the first of many self-inflicted wounds over the past few months, didn’t go over well with the players who were close to him.

Carter is one of at least two Rebels who will transfer and one of six from last year’s team who will leave with eligibility remaining. Four have declared for the draft — Stephen Zimmerman Jr., Pat McCaw, Derrick Jones Jr. and Chris Obekpa — and Jordan Cornish is searching for his next program, telling CBS Sports he’s down to Iowa State, Purdue, Butler and Grand Canyon.

The Rebels have players coming in, too. On Tuesday, 6-foot guard Jaylan Ballou committed to the program out of St. Paul High in California, though it’s still unclear if he will use a scholarship or walk on to the program. And UNLV expects an official visit from former Washington State big man Valentine Izundu sometime after his visit to San Diego State, which is the favorite to land him.

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

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