Monday, Jan. 16, 2017 | 6:14 p.m.
UNLV received a verbal commitment from 6-foot-7 forward Anthony Smith on Monday, giving the Rebels their second recruit in the Class of 2017.
Smith is currently playing at Feather River Community College, where he is averaging 22.3 points and 8.4 rebounds through 16 games this season. The athletic swingman has made 57.1 percent of his shots on the year.
Smith said UNLV’s “family atmosphere” was the deciding factor in his decision.
“UNLV has got a bit of history,” Smith said. “They’ve put some good players in the league, they’ve got a great coaching staff, and the atmosphere is all about family and love. I saw it when I was there on my official visit.”
Smith visited UNLV in August, but he was already familiar with the area. A Sacramento native, Smith moved to Las Vegas for a year and attended Durango High School as a junior, though he didn’t play basketball for the school.
Smith has proven to be an explosive scorer at the junior college level. He posted 18.6 points per game as a freshman on 57.3-percent shooting, and he has thrown down some YouTube-worthy dunks.
After his first year at Feather River, he attended a summer camp in Las Vegas, which is where he first caught the eye of UNLV assistant Rob Jeter.
On his visit, Smith said he connected with current Rebel Dwayne Morgan.
“I really like Dwayne,” he said. “We talked the most during the time when I was there, so I got to know him the most and we got off on the right foot. I love his game and his attitude.”
Smith said he is in good academic standing and plans to enroll at UNLV in the fall, although he wants to get to Las Vegas sooner than that so he can start working out with his future teammates regularly. Smith will have two years or eligibility remaining when he gets to UNLV.
He also said that players like Morgan give him confidence that the Rebels will be a winning program by the time he graduates.
“It’s a mindset of rebuilding right now,” Smith said, “but they’re doing OK. There’s some room for improvement — me and coach talk about it all the time. They’ve got good players and I think they’re going to finish the season strong. We’ll come in next year with the mindset of taking the next step and having an even better season. We’re going to make sure we’re doing it as a team, playing each game together. I feel like with the attitude everyone has, we’ll be a dangerous team. We’ve got good players and good recruiting coming in. I feel like we’ll have winning seasons the next two years.”
Smith is the second player to commit to UNLV for 2017, as prep guard Jay Green signed a letter of intent in November. Green, a native of Australia, is currently playing at Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.). UNLV will lose three seniors to graduation after the season (Christian Jones, Uche Ofoegbu and Tyrell Green).