Updated UNLV Roster Projection: 2013-14

Birch

Earlier this summer, I rolled out the RunRebs official roster projections for 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16, acknowledging that situations could change but taking my best shot anyway.

And look how that turned out.

Just a couple months later—there still haven’t even been an official practice yet—and those projections are already obsolete. Savon Goodman is done for this season, and maybe for good at UNLV. Jamal Aytes was a late addition who should see plenty of playing time right away. And Kendall Smith has been wowing observers during the summer sessions, making a serious bid for freshman minutes.

So with that in mind, it’s time to upload all the new data into the RunRebs supercomputer (my brain) and re-adjust our UNLV roster projections.

(You can see the original roster projections here: 2013-14 | 2014-15 | 2015-16)

(Updated) ROSTER PROJECTION — 2013-14 | 2014-15 | 2015-16

Projected Starting Five

PG — DeVille Smith, 2015
This hasn’t changed since the original projection—I still expect DeVille Smith to be the No. 1 point guard this season. But I keep hearing good things about freshman Kendall Smith from players, coaches and observers alike, so he could push DeVille in preseason practice.

SG — Bryce Dejean-Jones, 2015
BDJ has the ability to be one of the league’s top scoring threats, and with a few tweaks to his game he should be able to lead the Rebels as a go-to guy this season. He’s a lock for this starting spot, though I don’t think he’ll be back in 2014-15.

SF — Jelan Kendrick, 2015
This is the most glaring difference from where we stood in June. In the original projection, Savon Goodman was ticketed for this spot. But even before Goodman’s arrest and subsequent suspension, I had reconsidered and given Kendrick the starting nod here. He’s a better fit alongside Dejean-Jones and should bring some complementary offensive skills to the starting five.

PF — Roscoe Smith, 2015
I still see Roscoe Smith as the starting power forward. He’ll make his mark on the defensive end, where he brings length, mobility and good communication, all of which should fit nicely next to Khem Birch.

C — Khem Birch, 2015
Another lock for the starting lineup, Birch may be the Rebels’ most important player. He’s a game-changer defensively, and he’ll be counted on for more offensive contributions as well this season. Like Dejean-Jones, I don’t expect Birch back for the 2014-15 season.

Bench (rotation)

G — Kevin Olekaibe, 2014
In the original projection, Kendrick was the first guy off the bench and I had him ticketed for heavy minutes at multiple positions. Olekaibe isn’t quite as versatile, but he can spell the 1 or the 2 and his outside shooting will be a welcome addition to the roster. Of course, this is all assuming his transfer waiver goes through and the NCAA allows him to play this season. If not, we may be doing Roster Projections: Part 3 (in 3D) later this month.

C — Carlos Lopez-Sosa, 2014
Lopez-Sosa got buried last season, but the frontcourt isn’t nearly as deep now (and took another hit with Goodman’s suspension). The Rebels need Lopez-Sosa to contribute. I’ve still got him penciled in for 10-12 minutes per game, at least.

G — Kendall Smith, 2017
Smith is another guy who’s been bumped up since the first projection. I keep hearing rumblings that he’s showing out during the summer practices, and Dave Rice told me last week that Smith will play a significant role this season. I don’t think it’s out of the question that he keeps rising and eventually becomes the first guard off the bench.

F — Jamal Aytes, 2017
My entire experience with Aytes consists of the 2.5 AAU games I saw him play over the summer, so take this with a grain of salt if you so choose, but I think he’ll beat out redshirt freshman Demetris Morant for the backup power forward job. Morant is still raw, and after watching the Rebels hastily court Aytes late this summer, I think they see something in him and expect him to become a contributer quickly.

Bench (depth)

F — Demetris Morant, 2017
Morant drops from being a rotational bench player in the original projection to a depth guy here. The late addition of a polished 4  sealed his fate, as Morant still appears to be quite raw offensively. Could he defy this prediction with a strong showing in preseason practices and leapfrog Aytes? It’s entirely possible. But as of right now, I’m projecting Aytes ahead of him on the depth chart.

G — Daquan Cook, 2016
Things didn’t look promising for Cook the last time around, and I don’t think his situation has improved since then. If anything, Kendall Smith’s apparent emergence has pushed Cook further down the depth chart.

F — Chris Wood, 2017
Wood is a talented long-term prospect, but he may not be physically capable of contributing much as a freshman. He’s painfully thin, especially for a power forward, and may need a year or two in the weight room before he’s ready to take on a lead role.

Walk-ons

G — Charles Rushman, 2017
Rushman redshirted last year, which was somewhat odd for a walk-on. Maybe the Rebels have a plan for him?

G — Barry Cheaney, 2015
Fan favorite will only see time in blowouts.

Redshirt candidates

G — Dantley Walker, 2017
Walker may be the biggest question mark for the 2013-14 roster. I think there’s a good chance he redshirts and spends a year knocking off the rust from his LDS mission, but a strong preseason could also earn him time as a designated long-range shooter.

Suspended

F — Savon Goodman, 2016
Goodman won’t play in any games this year, but Rice has stopped short of banning him from the team. Goodman’s future at UNLV may depend on how his case unfolds in court.

Open scholarships (0)
The Rebels had one open scholarship thanks to Katin Reinhardt’s transfer, and Dave Rice said the plan was to wait until mid-season to use it. But the Savon Goodman situation persuaded Rice to go looking for a late frontcourt addition, and thankfully Jamal Aytes was still available. All scholarships for 2013-14 are now filled.

Bottom line
Losing Goodman was a big blow, as the frontcourt rotation already appeared thin before he was suspended. Lopez-Sosa is the only experienced backup big, and he’s limited to center. That means either Jamal Aytes or Demetris Morant is going to have to play significant minutes (15-20 per game), unless Rice decides to go really small for extended periods.

I think it’s a stretch to think either of those guys will be as good this year as Goodman would have been, so that’s a net loss for the Rebels. But long-term, Aytes should be a solid four-year contributor and Chris Wood could eventually emerge as a plus player, so if Goodman has played his last game at UNLV (a real possibility), the program seems decently positioned to move forward.

Related content:
Can Bryce Dejean-Jones Be a Go-To Scorer?
Sporting News Pegs Rebels Second in MWC
Sifting Through the Goodman Fallout; Early MWC Picks
Zimmerman: “Super Strong” Jamal Aytes is a Leader
How Will Goodman Suspension Impact Rebels?

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