It only took one year for Marvin Menzies to bring UNLV back, at least as a recruiting force.
When he was hired in April of 2016, the program was looking at a long rebuild. Most of the roster had defected; Menzies scrambled just to get bodies on the floor for his first season in Las Vegas. The result was a program worst record of 11-21.
It looked like the rebuild might take even longer than expected. Then five-star center Brandon McCoy chose UNLV over Oregon. The next day junior college player of the year Shakur Juiston and three-star guard Amauri Hardy committed to UNLV.
In the end, UNLV had a top 15 recruiting class and reason for hope in 2017-18. Now Menzies is proving that wasn’t a fluke and the Rebels are here to stay as a recruiting powerhouse.
He already has his first commit of the 2018 class in Trey Woodbury, the highest rated player in the state of Nevada. 247 Sports ranks Woodbury as a four star and just outside the top 100 players for the 2018 class at 119.
It means Menzies has landed a five-star center, the junior college player of the year and the best player in the state of Nevada in a five-month span. UNLV’s rebuild is over.
Woodbury is likely just the start for the 2018 class. Jules Bernard, a top 50 player, listed UNLV in his final 10 schools. UNLV has offered Bryce Hamilton, a top 100 player our of Pasadena, California. They’ve also jumped in with an offer on five-star wing Louis King.
Dave Rice’s top attribute as head coach at UNLV was his ability to get the highly-rated players to come to UNLV. His recruitment of Stephen Zimmerman may have prevented him from being fired after the 2014-15 season. While the fear of UNLV never being able to recruit at that high level was justified, Menzies has erased that doubt.
The Rebels are back in the mix for top prospects. They’ve already beaten out teams like Oregon, Arizona and Kansas. And UNLV will continue to battle with college basketball’s best.
And by recruiting at this high of a level, UNLV will set itself up to stay at the top of the Mountain West.
With the commitment of Brandon McCoy, UNLV snagged the only top 100 player in the 2017 class to go to a Mountain West school. The conference has fallen off in recent years, and it has largely been due to poor recruiting. Since 2013 only one non-UNLV Mountain West team has had a top 25 recruiting class, San Diego State in 2014.
But that’s it. No one in the Mountain West brings in top recruiting classes. It is why Nevada has turned into conference power by bringing in as many transfers as possible. (10 of Nevada’s 15 players are transfers.)
UNLV is in a position to dominate. And they don’t even need five-star seven footers every season. The 2018 class might not have a player as good as McCoy, but could still be the best in the Mountain West.
Woodbury is nearly a top 100 player. If Menzies lands one player in the top 100 and then one more in the top 150, he’ll likely have a top 25 class again. Something other Mountain West schools don’t typically do.
The Dave Rice era provided false hope for UNLV fans. But Marvin Menzies can recruit at a similar level. If he can coach that talent to wins, UNLV will have no problem ruling the Mountain West.