The 2002-2003 UNLV Rebels
have a strong chance to win their first NCAA Tournament game since
1991. Ever since the 1991 Tourney loss to Duke, Nevada-Las Vegas
has never been the same. A slew of coaches, paying of players,
scandals, and the infamous hot tub incident have scared the program,
almost without repair.
Well, this years Rebel
team is the flashy pick to win the Mountain West Conference. And
why not? They have some players with some serious game, and for the
first time in a long time, they seem to have the focus to turn all
that talent into wins on the court.
Three year starter, Dalron Johnson, has been producing for the
Rebels for some time now, and made a very smart decision on
returning for his senior season. DJ averaged just under 18 pts/game
and snatched 7 rebounds per game. He will look upon his senior
running mate in the backcourt, Marcus Banks for help.
Banks came in
from the JUCO ranks last year with a lot of hype, and lived up to
nearly every bit of it in his first season at Vegas. Marcus
averaged just under 16 pts/game and had 3 assists per game as well.
Coach, Charlie Spoonhour feels Marcus, the MWC Defensive Player of
the Year, could do more, and be electrifying for the Runnin' Rebs
Another key for the Rebels this year will be the
addition of Georgetown transfer, Demetrius "Nuke" Hunter. Hunter
was a guy who could get up and down the court with ease at
Georgetown. He decided to come home to Las Vegas, where he feels
more comfortable. He averaged just under 10 pts/game in his
sophomore season with the Hoyas. He and Banks give the Rebels one
of the best backcourts in the country.
The addition of two JUCO guys, J.K. Edwards and James Peters
gives the Rebs more depth in the frontcourt. Edwards (6'8'' 250)
will be counted on to start this year, and he is tenacious on the
glass. Junior Omari Pearson (6'8'' 220) will be spelling Edwards
off the bench. Likewise goes for Earnest Turner, spelling Banks and
Hunter. Nevada-Las Vegas must replace to double digit scorers in
Lou Kelly and Chris Richardson, and fill the holes of Lafonte
Johnson, who decided to transfer.
The University of Nevada-Las Vegas could make some serious noise
this year, and bring back the excitement of UNLV basketball back to
the desert. Hopefully, this time the excitement will just stay on