Wednesday, March 20, 2019 | 11:07 a.m.
It's safe to say that UNLV’s roster exodus has begun.
One day after losing freshmen Joel Ntambwe and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua to transfer, a source confirmed to the Sun that senior forward Shakur Juiston and junior center Cheickna Dembele also plan to transfer from the program.
Juiston should be eligible to play right away next year as a grad transfer; Dembele, Ntambwe and Tchamwa Tchatchoua will have to sit out a year before gaining eligibility at their next school.
Juiston committed to UNLV in the spring of 2017 as the No. 1-ranked junior college prospect in the country and lived up to the hype, starting every game in 2017-18 and posting 14.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. His numbers dipped slightly this season, as he averaged 10.8 points and 8.8 points over eight games before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the year. Juiston was planning to obtain a medical redshirt to return to UNLV in 2019-20 as a fifth-year senior, but now it appears his final campaign will be played elsewhere.
Dembele was a member of Menzies's first recruiting class in 2016. The 6-foot-11 shot-blocker played in 53 games as a freshman and sophomore, and like Juiston his 2018-19 season was cut short by injury. Dembele averaged 2.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game.
With the latest round of exits, UNLV is now set to return just eight scholarship players next season (only six of whom received playing time in 2018-19). And more transfers are expected in the near future.
Marvin Menzies recruited the entire current roster, so his firing last week was bound to lead to some player erosion. As it stands now, the Rebels’ top returning scorer for the 2019-20 season would be junior guard Amauri Hardy (13.1 points per game); the next-leading scorer would be senior forward Nick Blair (6.3 points per game), a non-scholarship player.
Juiston and Ntambwe in particular were set to play significant roles in 2019-20, so the next coach will have to hit the ground running in order to begin rebuilding the roster.