When news broke on Saturday that Savon Goodman won’t play in 2013-14 due to his arrest and ongoing court case, it opened up a slew of questions for the Rebels.
We still don’t know the details of the incident that led to Goodman’s arrest, but whatever happened, it’s going to affect the team on and off the court this season. Let’s take a look at some of the key Goodman-related storylines to monitor moving forward:
One less experienced player
Before the Goodman suspension, the Rebels were only slated to bring back five experienced players from last year’s team. Goodman only averaged 9.0 minutes per game last year, but subtract him and the 2013-14 squad is going to be even more inexperienced. Goodman appeared to be on the verge of taking a leap forward and being a key contributor off the bench, but now the Rebels are going to have to look to newcomers like Chris Wood and Jamal Aytes to replace some of Goodman’s production. It remains to be seen if they’ll be up to the task.
One of the main talking points heading into the season was the Rebels’ re-commitment to the running game. The team’s depth was going to be key in pushing tempo for 40 minutes, but with Goodman gone, the thinning of the bench could affect how much the team runs. If presumed frontcourt starters Roscoe Smith and Jelan Kendrick have to play more minutes, it could force the team to slow down and play at a less taxing pace—not what Dave Rice had in mind for this season.
Suspended but could practice
While Rice was fairly emphatic that he wanted to send a strong message with the year-long suspension, he stopped short of banning Goodman from the program completely.
“The only decision I have made as of today is that Savon Goodman will not play in games for us this entire season,” Rice said. “Anything above and beyond that is still to be determined. As of today, he’s still a part of this program.”
So while Goodman won’t play in any games this season, the door could be open for him to use the facilities, work out, and perhaps even practice with the team, assuming his court case progresses favorably.
Then again, there’s a chance his case doesn’t turn out favorably. When informed of his suspension, Goodman told Rice he was still committed to the UNLV program, but with the severity of the situation, you’ve got to think that transferring is a real possibility for Goodman now. If he stays at UNLV, at the very least he’s going to lose a year of development time and cede his spot on the depth chart to incoming freshmen Jamal Aytes and Chris Wood.
And regardless of what happens on the court, the “change of scenery” and “fresh start” options could look appealing to Goodman right now. He’s expected to attend the first day of fall classes on Monday, but for now, I’d list his status as “tenuous.”
Speaking of Jamal Aytes, his sudden recruitment takes on a whole new meaning in light of Goodman’s arrest. I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that Aytes became a high priority once the UNLV coaching staff realized Goodman may not be available for the 2013-14 season.
The timing lines up—Goodman’s arrest warrant was issued on August 19, the same day that Aytes committed to UNLV. And Aytes’ playing style is even similar to Goodman’s—both are undersized power forwards who rely on physicality and relentless energy to make an impact. And one of Aytes’ major positives was the belief that he could step in and contribute as a freshman.
So allow me to put on my Kevin Costner-as-Jim Garrison-in-”JFK” conspiracy theory hat (subbing in a Boston accent for whatever accent KC was using): When the Goodman situation broke, the Rebels needed a replacement in the frontcourt. Who was available late in the 2013 recruiting class? Aytes. Who fit the physical profile? Aytes. Who could reasonably replicate Goodman’s role? Aytes.
I don’t have any sources to confirm it, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Goodman’s arrest and the subsequent recruitment of Aytes were very much related.
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