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Joel Ntambwe transferring from UNLV

Fellow freshman Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua also leaving program in wake of Menzies firing

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Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

UNLV Rebels head coach Marvin Menzies talks with UNLV Rebels forward Joel Ntambwe (24) during their Mountain West Conference basketball game against the Wyoming Cowboys Saturday, January 5, 2019, at the Thomas & Mack Center.

UNLV basketball will have a new coaching staff next year, and it looks like the roster will be vastly different as well.

Freshmen Joel Ntambwe and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua are leaving the program, as 247 Sports reported on Tuesday that both are planning to transfer from UNLV in the wake of Marvin Menzies’s firing.

Both Ntambwe and Tchamwa Tchatchoua came to UNLV as unranked prospects as part of Menzies’s 2018 recruiting class. With Menzies out, Ntambwe and Tchamwa Tchatchoua have decided not to stick around to see who will be coaching the Runnin’ Rebels next year.

Ntambwe vastly outperformed expectations as a first-year player. The 6-foot-9 wing started every game and averaged 11.8 points while making 38.6 percent of his 3-point shots. Tchamwa Tchatchoua saw less action, starting 11 games and averaging 13.3 minutes per contest. The 6-foot-8 center posted 3.4 points and 3.5 rebounds on the year.

With Ntambwe and Tchamwa Tchatchoua exiting, UNLV has three open scholarships for next year, but obviously that number could fluctuate throughout the offseason as more players leave due to the unsettled coaching situation.

Two incoming recruits from the 2019 class, California guard Ethan Anderson and New Jersey guard Josh Pierre-Louis, have already de-committed from UNLV in response to Menzies being terminated.

If more current players decide to transfer out, it would begin to look like a replay of the 2016 offseason. UNLV fired head coach Dave Rice in the middle of the 2015-16 season, and when the search for his replacement dragged on all but two players ended up leaving the team. By the time Menzies was finally installed as coach in mid-April the roster was gutted and it took years to return stability to the program.

At Friday’s press conference announcing Menzies’s firing, athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said there is no definite timeline for hiring the next coach.

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

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