When he committed to UNLV during the summer, forward Jamal Aytes had the look of a player capable of helping the Runnin’ Rebels account for the loss of reserve Savon Goodman, whose off-court issues resulted in his leaving the program. But that didn’t turn out to be the case, as in seven games Aytes saw a grand total of 37 minutes of action.
And as a result of the lack of playing time Aytes has decided to transfer, with the school announcing the news on Wednesday afternoon. Aytes played in four of UNLV’s seven games, posting averages of 2.8 points and 0.8 rebounds per game.
“I have enjoyed my time at UNLV, but transferring gives me a better opportunity for playing time sooner in my career,” Aytes said in the release.
While it would have been nice to hold onto Aytes, this shouldn’t be a major issue for UNLV moving forward. Roscoe Smith (12.3 ppg, 14.7 rpg) is leading the nation in rebounding and Khem Birch (11.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 4.3 bpg) has picked up where he left off last season, when he won Mountain West Newcomer of the Year honors. UNLV can also call on players such as junior Jelan Kendrick, senior Carlos Lopez-Sosa and underclassmen Demetris Morant and Christian Wood in the front court.
With Smith and Birch playing as they have thus far, playing time has been tough to come by for Lopez-Sosa and the two underclassmen. That was also the case for Aytes, who has decided that it would be best for him to continue his career at another school.
When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.
LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.
Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).
All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.
The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.
Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.