Basketball season begins for UNLV on Nov. 11 with a home game against South Alabama, but though there are just 113 days until tipoff, the Rebels still find themselves with an open scholarship and dwindling options for filling it.
Head coach Marvin Menzies told RunRebs that his preference for the final roster spot is to find a fifth-year grad transfer capable of stepping in and helping the team right away, but at this point in the offseason, that may be easier said than done.
“We still have one scholarship left right now that we’d like to fill with a fifth-year senior,” Menzies said, “but there aren’t many left and that’s why that is kind of dragging out a little bit.”
ESPN reported that the Rebels are in the mix for former Southern Illinois forward Bola Olaniyan, a 6-foot-7 rebounder:
Southern Illinois transfer Bola Olaniyan told ESPN he is looking at Houston, Alabama , Iona, Ga Tech, UNLV. Hoping to graduate, play ASAP.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 19, 2016
Menzies has already brought in two grad transfers to round out the squad this season in Uche Ofoegbu (San Francisco) and Christian Jones (St. John’s). Menzies said the dire roster situation earlier in the offseason led to signing two fifth-year players, but that he doesn’t want to make a habit of it.
“I’d like to build the program off of big-time high school kids that want to come here and get their degree,” Menzies said. “And then every once in a while you get a special talent that has an opportunity to become an NBA player early, and if that hole that is left can be filled by a fifth-year transfer or a junior college kid, then you get a fifth-year transfer or a junior college kid. But I don’t see us doing a lot of that going forward, to be honest.”
UNLV has undergone a massive and challenging overhaul this offseason, with nine newcomers already populating the roster. If a grad transfer like Olaniyan doesn’t materialize this summer, there are several other options for the 13th and final roster spot, as Menzies could use it on a late Class of 2016 high school commit or a promising junior college prospect, or even keep the space open through the start of the 2016-17 campaign in hopes of landing an in-season transfer.