Monday, March 19, 2018 | 2 a.m.
With another UNLV basketball season in the books, the Sun's Mike Grimala sat down to answer your questions about all things Rebels.
You can watch the entire live Q&A session above, and you can read a few selected outtakes here:
@unlvbravesfins: Are the Rebels better next year?
Mike Grimala: UNLV will likely be without big man Brandon McCoy next year, and head coach Marvin Menzies will be breaking in an entirely new backcourt due to the graduation of Jovan Mooring and Jordan Johnson. But it's not inconceivable that the 2018-19 squad could match or exceed this year's record. For one, the Rebels will return players at every position, with redshirt senior Noah Robotham and promising sophomore Amauri Hardy providing experience in the backcourt. And senior Shakur Juiston will give UNLV a strong interior presence, even without McCoy The key will be the incoming freshman class, headlined by talented guards Bryce Hamilton and Trey Woodbury. If Hamilton and Woodbury make a positive impact on the offensive end, there's a chance the Rebels could be better next year.
@BillHarp_: How long does UNLV stick with Menzies?
Mike Grimala: Menzies is not on the hot seat. He took over a flatlining program two years ago, and in a very short timespan he has returned the Rebels to the middle of the pack in the Mountain West and reestablished UNLV's strong recruiting reputation. A surprise NCAA tournament berth next year would obviously help his case, but his contract runs through 2021, and he has made enough progress to feel secure for at least the next two years. The only complication could come from the top administrative levels — with UNLV president Len Jessup reportedly on his way out, the university could soon have a new president and an athletic director — the recently-hired Desiree Reed-Francois — who were not involved in Menzies' hiring. If they decide they want to pick their own coach for UNLV's flagship sports program, that could create increased pressure on Menzies.
@UNLVRebelGrl: When do you think Brandon McCoy will announce his decision to stay or declare for the NBA draft?
Mike Grimala: The deadlines for underclassmen interested in declaring for the draft are set in advance. McCoy has until April 29 to enter the draft, but if he wants to work out for NBA decision-makers and get some feedback before making his decision, the final date to withdraw and stay in school is April 10. So we should know McCoy's intentions within a month, though I don't expect him to wait until the last minute — a sophomore season at UNLV is a long shot.
@ZMoreimi: Who are they still recruiting for this class/ who should we look out for?
Mike Grimala: UNLV already has commitments from three high schoolers from the Class of 2018, and the Rebels may also be giving a scholarship to redshirt senior Noah Robotham, who was technically a walk-on this season but is a scholarship-caliber player. With four expected departures (McCoy, Mooring, Johnson, Anthony Smith), that fills up all available scholarships. But this is college basketball, so there are bound to be more departures, either through unexpected transfers or surprise NBA declarations. If (when?) those additional one or two spots open up in the offseason, Menzies may decide that he has enough high schoolers coming in and opt to add some experience, which he could do by dipping into the junior college ranks or the grad transfer market. Menzies has done both — Juiston and Smith were juco products, and 2016-17 starters Uche Ofoegbu and Christian Jones were grad transfers. Going the experienced route could be a quick way to fill some needs for the 2018-19 roster, but until the roster situation shakes out in the coming weeks, we won't know exactly what those needs are.
@ainswors7: Any insight on non-con schedule next yr?
Mike Grimala: UNLV didn't play a very challenging non-conference schedule in 2017-18, with only a home game against Arizona really moving the needle in terms of fan interest or RPI ranking. Next season should potentially give the Rebels more chances to earn quality wins. The final schedule won't be announced until later this summer, but we already know the Rebels will travel to Hawaii to play in the Diamond Head Classic in December. The eight-team tournament will give UNLV three games against pretty solid competition, as the field includes TCU and Rhode Island — both NCAA tournament teams this year — as well as St. Mary's, Colorado, Indiana State, Hawaii and Charlotte. UNLV will also travel to play a road contest at Illinois, which could be a top-100 KenPom team. If the non-conference slate includes one more quality opponent — and I would expect Menzies to try to create at least one interesting home game at the Thomas & Mack Center — it will be a significant step up from last year's schedule.