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2020 recruit Jhaylon Martinez: UNLV basketball is ‘top priority’

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L.E. Baskow

UNLV players warm up on their newly-designed court as they face Prairie View A&M at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017.

In the wake of getting his first commitment from the Class of 2020, it looks like UNLV head coach T.J. Otzelberger could be closing in on landing another choice prospect.

Coronado center Jhaylon Martinez took an official visit to UNLV on June 15-16 and spoke glowingly about the experience.

“It went really well,” Martinez said. “I would say they’re my top priority right now. We’re on the same page. We’ve talked about everything and me and my family really like the school.”

Martinez is a 6-foot-10 center who can score around the basket, but it’s his ability to stretch the floor with his jumper and take opposing big men off the dribble that makes him an intriguing fit for Otzelberger. As a junior at Coronado last season, Martinez averaged 12.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Composite recruiting site 247Sports rates Martinez as a 3-star recruit and pegs him as the No. 35 center in the nation.

During his visit, Martinez observed as the Rebels went through a summer workout and pointed to Otzelberger’s coaching style as a big positive.

“I think the best part of it was the workout. Getting to see how coach T.J. interacts with the guys and how the coaches interact, and then after the workout a couple players came up to me and were talking about how T.J. coaches and just how he is. They were telling me really good things about him.”

Las Vegas native Nick Blake became Otzelberger’s first 2020 commit when he pledged to the Rebels on June 14. Since then, Blake has been active on social media and behind the scenes, working to persuade other locals to stay home — and Martinez has been one of his top targets.

During a recent road trip to Arizona for summer ball, Martinez’s team shared a bus with a group of players from Bishop Gorman. Blake used a connection with one of those players to get a phone call patched through to Martinez.

“We were on the bus and Nick Blake had called somebody he plays travel ball with, and he got on the phone with me,” Martinez said with a laugh. “He asked me about the visit. He reached out and wanted to know how it was going with UNLV. He’s been trying to recruit me lately.”

Martinez said he doesn’t have any more official visits lined up at the moment but didn’t rule out visiting other schools in the coming months. He took an official visit to St. Mary’s earlier in the summer.

Martinez plans to announce his college decision by the end of the summer, but said it could come as early as the beginning of August.

For now, it sounds like UNLV is in good position with the versatile big man.

“They’re a very high priority,” Martinez said. “I really like the school and I really like T.J.”

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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