UNLV’s season may have ended early with a first-round loss in the NCAA tournament, but recruiting never stops — and Dave Rice scored another huge win on that front when Class of 2014 forward Dwayne Morgan committed to the Rebels on Wednesday.
Morgan, an athletic 6-foot-7 perimeter scorer from St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.), picked UNLV over hometown schools Georgetown and Maryland. Credit the Rebels’ staff for getting in on Morgan early; they were the first school to offer him a scholarship, and that diligence paid off in the end.
So what does Morgan’s commitment mean for the Rebels? Here are the key points:
If it weren’t for Anthony Bennett last year, Morgan would be UNLV’s highest rated recruit in 20 years. Morgan is ranked No. 13 in the Class of 2014 by Rivals, and he’s got a great shot to be a McDonald’s All-American as a senior next year. At 6-foot-7 he can handle the ball, create offense and hit outside shots, which makes him a potential No. 1 scoring option at the next level. Morgan could be a college superstar in the making, and possibly even an NBA-level talent.
Rebels regain recruiting mojo
After missing out on Isaac Hamilton and Jermaine Lawrence, both of whom listed UNLV in their final three, the Morgan commitment once again proves that Rice and his staff know how to recruit at the highest level. Along with Bennett, Katin Reinhardt, Savon Goodman (all Class of 2012) and Chris Wood (Class of 2013), Morgan becomes the fifth top-100 player to commit to UNLV under Rice. That recruiting record will stack up against any program in the country.
When Morgan arrives in 2014-15, Bryce Dejean-Jones, Roscoe Smith and Khem Birch will be seniors, while Katin Reinhardt and Savon Goodman will be juniors. They will form the veteran nucleus of the team, but Morgan can definitely step in and provide an immediate impact as a freshman. He’s versatile enough to see minutes at shooting guard, small forward, and even power forward in small-ball lineups, and he’s the type of long, open-court athlete that Rice loves. He may not be ready to dominate right out of the gate like Anthony Bennett, but look for Morgan to play a key role as a freshman in 2014-15.
Class of 2014 almost a wrap
UNLV’s recruiting class may be small in 2014 (possibly just one or two players), but Morgan instantly provides a headliner and guarantees that the talent pipeline will not slow (Rice has now landed a top-50 recruit in 2012, 2013, and 2014). And having such a highly-ranked player on board early gives the Rebels a chance to target the rest of the class while already having a pretty good idea of what the team is going to look like in 2014-15.
Malik Pope up next?
Speaking of the rest of the 2014 class, it will be interesting to see how Morgan’s commitment affects the Rebels’ pursuit of California swingman Malik Pope. Pope is ranked even higher (No. 7 in Rivals’ 2014 rankings), but he’s similar to Morgan in terms of size and skill set. UNLV is in very good position with Pope, but will he want to come to a team where he’ll have to compete with another top-15 recruit for minutes at his position? Rice may be able to convince him that he and Morgan are versatile enough to play together, but the situation bears monitoring. It goes without saying, but landing both players would be the ultimate coup.
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