Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Heading into last season, it was difficult to pick the UNLV basketball team out of a lineup. Faced with a short recruiting period after being hired late in the spring, head coach Marvin Menzies and his assistants scrambled to put together a roster of available parts, then spent most of the preseason hiding it from public view.
One of the sacrifices was the program’s Scarlet & Gray Showcase. Normally an annual event, the Rebels’ first-look exhibition was left on the cutting room floor last year. And who could blame them? The team eventually went 11-21, the worst record in program history, and it’s doubtful that they could have put on a dunk contest that would have been any more entertaining.
A year later, Menzies is ready to reintroduce his team to Las Vegas. After scoring a recruiting haul that has vaulted UNLV back into NCAA tournament contention, Menzies is throwing open the doors of the Thomas & Mack Center and inviting fans to come meet the Runnin’ Rebels. When viewed through that lens, the return of the Scarlet & Gray Showcase (Wednesday, 7 p.m., free admission) may be the most promising sign yet for the 2017-18 team.
The Showcase will feature a short intrasquad scrimmage, which will be more about entertainment than performance. Still, it will represent the fans’ first opportunity to see heralded newcomers such as freshman center Brandon McCoy, junior forward Shakur Juiston and freshman guard Amauri Hardy, so the atmosphere should be enthusiastic.
The Rebels will also put on a slam dunk exhibition, and among Juiston, McCoy, freshman Mbacke Diong and junior Kris Clyburn, there should be a few show-stopping jams.
The Lady Rebels will also participate in the event, playing a short scrimmage and holding a 3-point shooting contest.
After the on-court activities, the men’s and women’s players will be available to meet fans and sign autographs.
The festivities represent a stark contrast from last season’s anonymous campaign, and the early message is clear: UNLV basketball is back.