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Coveted transfer David Jenkins is ‘very excited’ ahead of UNLV visit

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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, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017.

UNLV coach T.J. Otzelberger won’t have to wait long to find out if David Jenkins is joining the Runnin’ Rebels. Jenkins, who will be on campus this weekend for an official visit, said he plans to make his decision “two or three days” after he leaves Las Vegas.

The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 19.7 points last season under Otzelberger at South Dakota State. Jenkins drilled 45.3 percent of his 3-pointers, which elevates him to must-have status as Otzelberger builds his first recruiting class at UNLV.

Jenkins said he has narrowed his choices down to Gonzaga, Oregon and UNLV, and that he’ll take a couple days to himself after wrapping up his visit (which runs from Saturday to Monday) before making his final call.

“As of right now, UNLV will be my last visit,” he said.

Otzelberger’s prior relationship with Jenkins is what has the Rebels in contention. Jenkins said the coach contacted him shortly after his name hit the transfer portal and that his past success in Otzelberger’s offensive system will be a factor in his decision.

“I’m very excited about this visit because that’s my old coach,” Jenkins said. “He and I have a great relationship. I’m excited to see him, excited to meet the players there. Obviously I know that I’ll be able to fit in right away. I know his defensive and offensive philosophy right away, so I know what I’m getting with UNLV.”

Jenkins was lightly recruited out of high school, and he still remembers Otzelberger driving eight hours each way from Brookings, S.D., to watch Jenkins’s prep school team in Wichita.

“T.J. was the only coach who was dedicated to come and see me consistently,” he said. “He drove eight hours to see me three weekends in a row. He’d drive eight hours, watch me for an hour, then drove eight hours back. That showed me how much he wanted me and needed me.”

Jenkins said current UNLV player Amauri Hardy has also been in regular contact. Though Jenkins wouldn’t be eligible to play this upcoming season, he thinks he and Hardy could form a potent backcourt combination in 2020-21.

If he ends up choosing the Rebels, however, it will likely be on the strength of his relationship with Otzelberger.

Jenkins believes that Otzelberger will do big things at UNLV.

“He’s a real dedicated guy,” Jenkins said. “He doesn’t sleep because he’s thinking about basketball all day and all night, so there’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to have great success at UNLV. Like he mentioned in his press conference, he’s going to bring the lights back. I have no doubt in that.”

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

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