UNLV freshman forward Jamal Aytes decides to transfer

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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.

Creighton lands 2016 combo guard

Greg McDermott
Associated Press
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Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.

News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.

Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.

Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.

Three-star power forward commits to WVU

Bob Huggins
Associated Press
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Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.

6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.

West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.

Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.