UNLV will likely begin the 2012-13 season just how they began and finished the 2011-12 season and by that, we mean unranked. There's no reasons to say otherwise with three starters departing the lineup- Oscar Bellfield, Chace Stanback and Brice Massamba, plus reserve Kendall Wallace. Bellfield was the leader in minutes played (32 per game) and assists (5.4). Stanback was as streaky as a perimeter shooter could be, but still shot 45.5 percent last year. And Massamba, all 6'10", 245-pounds of him, was the team's real only low-post presence. Coach Dave Rice must find three new 3-point shooters as Stanback, Bellfield and Wallace were UNLV's (who finished ranked top ten nationally in 3-point makes and attempts) best perimeter weapons.......But no reason to fret Rebel fans.
Mike Moser was a potential first-round pick if he had stayed in the 2012 NBA Draft, so his return is crucial and prevents a massive overhaul of talent. He was the Rebels' leading scorer at 14 points per game and a complete, versatile attack at that. Moser is big enough to score inside, get to the foul line (and convert nearly 80 percent of his attempts), but has a soft enough touch to stroke it from the perimeter (44 makes a year ago). His biggest impact will be felt on the glass if he can maintain the focus and aggressiveness that he had a year ago in corralling 10.5 a night. His versatility allows Rice to play him anywhere on the court from point-forward to center essentially.
Taking over much, if not all of the impact of Bellfield, is rising-senior point guard Anthony Marshall, a 6'3" prospect to keep an eye on. He can't stroke it from the perimeter like last year's guards, but he was one of the best wings in the country last year at attacking the basket and had 163 free throws to show for it. Marshall's versatility and ability to play three positions on the floor allows him to fill the stat sheet (second in rebounding at 5.1 per game and second in assists with 4.5) give Rice two players to build around.
Former high school all-american, center Khem Birch, formally of Pitt, becomes eligible mid-way through the year after the fall semester. He brings a gifted defensive presence around the rim and could develop into the low-post scorer the Rebels needs on offense. New to the team in '12-'13 as well is USC transfer Bryce Jones, a 6'5" wing. His 3-point shooting (37.9 percent at USC) will be counted on, but will give Rice added versatility with some ability to slide over and play some point to spell Marshall. Add in freshman sharp-shooter Katin Reinhardt and the top-end of the rotation is looking just as good as last year. It may just take some games to get everything worked out.
A five-star combo-forward, Anthony Bennett of Findlay Prep may stay in Vegas to play for Rice next season as well. The addition of Bennett would catapult UNLV from the potential unranked class to a top 15 program.