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UNLV got a late recruiting boost when Top 100 prospect Troy Baxter committed on Thursday, giving Marvin Menzies and the Rebels a much needed infusion of blue-chip talent:

The Class of 2016 small forward is ranked as the No. 88 player in the country by Rivals.com and was only available because he was released from his letter of intent by South Florida last week after that university became embroiled in an academic scandal. Baxter visited UNLV on Tuesday and Wednesday and apparently liked what he saw:

Baxter is a top-tier athlete, capable of running the floor and finishing above the rim in a manner similar to former UNLV small forward Derrick Jones, though he profiles as more of a power forward. As a high school senior last year, Baxter averaged 17 points, seven rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.

Current Rebels were quick to voice their enthusiasm for Baxter’s arrival:

A few quick thoughts on Baxter’s commitment:

Big recruiting win
Marvin Menzies and his staff must be grinning ear to ear. They came together quickly in the spring and did a good job of patching together a workable recruiting class on short notice, but the lack of star power was the one critique that could be levied against Menzies’ first incoming class (though not many would have held it against him, considering the circumstances). Now, Menzies has a crown jewel for the 2016 class and an immediate answer for the folks who questioned whether he’d be able to recruit at a high level at UNLV.

Building block
Baxter should figure into the Rebels’ plans rather early, as he can bring size and explosive athleticism to a frontcourt that might be lacking in both. Right now, Christian Jones and Dwayne Morgan are projected as UNLV’s starters at center and power forward, respectively, and the backups are inexperienced freshmen. Baxter won’t help with the experience level, but if he can come in, get up to speed and provide some basic big-man skills—rebounding, finishing around the rim, etc.—he should see significant playing time.

Scholarship situation
Marvin Menzies gambled a bit by keeping the team’s final scholarship spot open so late into the offseason, but the move paid off big time with Baxter’s commitment. Menzies initially wanted to fill the spot with a fifth-year grad transfer, but I’m guessing Baxter’s talent and potential long-term impact made it an easy decision to extend an offer. The Rebels now have 13 players under scholarship for 2016-17.

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