Former UNLV big man Khem Birch was not selected in Thursday’s NBA Draft, making him a free agent and allowing him to sign with any team as he tries to make a pro roster.
The Canada native was aiming to become the second Rebel to be drafted in as many years, following in the footsteps of Anthony Bennett, who went No. 1 overall in the 2013 draft. But despite being projected as a mid-second round pick in many mock drafts, Birch’s name was never called.
Birch decided to leave UNLV early after a solid junior season that saw him post 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game while winning his second consecutive Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year award.
A 6-foot-9 power forward/center, Birch has long been touted as a future pro. He was ranked No. 9 in the nation coming out of high school in 2011 and was the highest-caliber recruit ever to sign with Pitt under coach Jamie Dixon. But after less than a dozen games as a Panther, Birch transferred to UNLV, where he then anchored Dave Rice’s defense for the next two seasons. Birch finished his career ranked second on UNLV’s all-time blocked shots list with 192 rejections.
Former UNLV forward Roscoe Smith also went undrafted. Smith declared for the draft after averaging 11.1 points and 10.9 rebounds in his one season as a Rebel.
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