It’s getting late in the game for UNLV to fill its final scholarship opening for the 2016-17 season. There are just three months to go before opening night, two months until the official start of practice and less than two weeks until the Rebels take the court in the Bahamas for their summer exhibition series, so if that 13th roster spot is going to be filled, it probably has to happen soon.
To that end, a couple options have popped up in the last week or so, though there is no indication of whether or not Marvin Menzies plans to act on them.
First, Southern Illinois grad transfer Bola Olayinan told ESPN he is considering UNLV as a possible destination for his final collegiate season:
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
Then, junior college prospect Patrick Savoy Jr. received an offer from UNLV, which led to an unofficial campus visit on Wednesday:
— Vegas Elite (@VegasEliteHoops) August 4, 2016
Both players are intriguing, but for different reasons. Olayinan is listed as a center even though he’s just 6-foot-7, but he uses his 230-pound frame to clean the glass. As a junior last year, he averaged a team-high 8.8 rebounds in just 23.9 minutes per game. His rebounding rate of 21.8 percent would have been far and away the best mark on the Rebels (Stephen Zimmerman, 17.7 percent). That kind of bulk under the basket would fill a need for UNLV, which is thin and undersized in the frontcourt as of now.
Savoy brings an entirely different skill set to the table. The 6-foot-4 guard is a high-caliber shooter, having made a sparkling 42.7 percent of his 3-pointers last year for Sheridan College (85-of-199) while scoring 16.8 points per game. He’s also automatic from the free-throw line (86.3 percent), which should be refreshing for UNLV fans.
Aside from their playing styles, there are other considerations when trying to determine which player would be a better fit for the last roster spot. The most vital concern is their eligibility status. Both would be able to play immediately, but Olayinan has just one season remaining while Savoy could play three more years at UNLV.
There are pros and cons to each scenario, but Menzies has talked specifically about his desire to fill the roster spot with a fifth-year senior. He may not want to “handcuff” himself by tying up a scholarship for three years on the wrong player, as he could end up needing the spot for a talented high school prospect from the 2017 or 2018 class.
Based on that characterization, it would seem that Olayinan fits the technical specs, as he only requires a one-year commitment, but Menzies could reverse course if he believes Savoy is worth locking up.
The other option would be waiting for something better to come along, whether it means adding another player later in the summer or holding the spot open in hopes of snagging a mid-season transfer. Saving it into the season could be the most prudent course of action, as there will likely be a wider pool of transfers to pursue. But if the Rebels are set on finding a 13th man for the 2016-17 season, time is running out.