Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018 | 2 a.m.
College basketball coaches take different approaches to nonscholarship players. Some view walk-ons as practice bodies, with no purpose other than to play hard between game days and push the scholarship players to match their effort. Others see the walk-on route as a developmental path that can be used to cultivate the occasional diamond in the rough.
Marvin Menzies thinks the latter option applies to Louis Bangai.
Bangai, a 6-foot-11 center, will join UNLV this season as a walk-on, and Menzies believes the Cameroon native has the potential to one day contribute on the floor in some capacity.
“I do,” Menzies said. “He didn’t grow up playing the game, so he’s behind the curve as far as development. But he has the characteristics of someone who can develop, given the right environment and structure.”
Bangai has been in the United States for four years, spending the first three at a California high school before completing a prep year at Scotland Performance Institute, the same Pennsylvania school that produced current UNLV center Cheickna Dembele.
During his time at St. Paul High School (Santa Fe Springs, Calif.), Bangai showed an ability to block shots and rebound, and his offensive game is improving. He averaged 25 points per game in the state playoffs his final year at St. Paul and earned Player of the Year honors from the Whittier Daily News.
Menzies said Bangai has been ticketed for UNLV for a long time.
“We developed a relationship over the years when he was playing in California,” Menzies said. “His coaches and mentors back in Cameroon knew the other guys that I’ve coached and watched what I’ve done with some African kids. Quite frankly, they wanted him to play for me.”
Menzies also said that former Foothill star Marvin Coleman will join the Rebels as a walk-on for the 2018-19 season. Coleman averaged 16.9 points and 5.8 assists per game as a senior at Foothill last year.
The 6-foot-3 point guard was rated as a 2-star prospect by 247 Sports.
“Marvin is a high-character guy with great academic success,” Menzies said. “And he wanted to play for UNLV. He wanted to play for Las Vegas.”