Towards the end of the 2014 season, UNLV’s Jelan Kendrick, the Memphis transfer via junior college, began to earn more minutes during Runnin’ Rebels games. In a loss to Nevada, Kendrick played 33 minutes and scored 16 points, and in another loss (to San Diego State) two games later, Kendrick again used more than 30 minutes. The pedestal was set for a breakout senior season, one where Kendrick would likely receive more playing time due to transfers and players declaring for the NBA draft, but Kendrick may not be on the UNLV roster in 2015: the wing is set to graduate by summer’s end and is deciding whether to use his fifth season at the MWC program.
Coach Dave Rice has already lost Bryce Dejean-Jones (to transfer) and Roscoe Smith (to the NBA draft), and there is a chance that, along with Kendrick, Khem Birch might take his game beyond Las Vegas’ city limits in 2014-15.
The UNLV coaching staff is assuredly not done on the recruiting trail — there have been reports that Ryan Miller, replete with ties to the California recruiting scene, has been offered a spot on the UNLV staff — and even if Kendrick and Birch return, there could be a few new bodies who’ll join the team in the coming weeks.
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists,click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.
Chris Jones, Louisville: Russ Smith will be starting once again in the Louisville backcourt. But who will be beside him, replacing Peyton Siva? The top junior college player in the nation from a season ago, Chris Jones is joining the program. Jones, originally a Bruce Pearl commit at Tennessee, had to take a different route, spending two years at Northwest Florida State while amassing a 62-6 record over two seasons and bringing his team to the national title game in both seasons. The 5-foot-10 Jones averaged 21.8 points and 5.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.0 steals per game and was named NABC Junior College Player of the Year.
Deshawn Delaney, New Mexico: Tony Snell averaged 12.5 points per game for the Lobos. But in May, before Snell got drafted by the Chicago Bulls, Craig Neal landed a commitment from Vincennes University (Ind.) wing Deshawn Delaney. The 6-foot-5 Delaney was a two-time All-American, averaging 15.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. With Cullen Neal recovering from an appendectomy, he should start early on for a team that returns Kendall Williams and Alex Kirk.
Kenny Chery, Baylor: Baylor’s frontline looks awesome, with Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson and Rico Gathers all back in the fold. The backcourt, on the other hand, will be the big question. Pierre Jackson and A.J. Walton graduate. Deuce Bello and L.J. Rose transferred. That leaves a hole for Kenny Chery, a product of State Fair Community College (Mo.), to fill this season as he looks to follow in the footsteps of Jackson, who went from being a JuCo transfer to a first-team all-Big 12 performer.
Jameel McKay, Marquette: Buzz Williams has had a history of successful two-year players in the past. The latest could be Indian Hills (Iowa) forward Jameel McKay. He averaged 16.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game this past season. He’ll be a presence in a solid frontline for Marquette. It’ll be interesting to see how he’ll develop, especially with Davante Gardner and Chris Otule graduating following this season.
Darius Carter, Wichita State: Cleanthony Early made the jump from JuCo to the Missouri Valley last season, Carl Hall the season before. Darius Carter will look to replicate that success this season. The new Wichita State forward averaged averaged 15.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game at Vincennes. The Shockers need to replace Carl Hall, who averaged 12.5 points and 6.8 boards during the Shocker’s run to the Final Four last season.
DeVille Smith and Jelan Kendrick, UNLV: Jelan Kendrick is a junior that’s headed to his fourth school this season. He’s been to Memphis, Ole Miss, Indian Hills and is now a Runnin’ Rebel. Dave Rice lost quite a bit from last season, including guards Anthony Marshall and Katin Reinhardt. Kendrick is a risk, but he’s a former McDonald’s All-American point guard, too, and Rice needs a lead guard.
Kendrick isn’t the only guy Rice gave a second chance to. DeVille Smith, a former top 100 point guard, joins the program as well. He played one year at Mississippi State, where he averaged 4.2 points and 1.9 assists, and spent this past season at Southwest Mississippi Community College.
Elgin Cook, Oregon: Dana Altman lost Arslan Kazemi, E.J. Singler, Carlos Emory and Tony Woods. A big addition is one-year transfer Mike Moser, but another key fixture in the Ducks frontcourt could be Chris Jones’ teammate from Northwest Florida State and former Iowa State commit Elgin Cook. The 6-foot-6 forward averaged 14.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game. Oh, and he’ll probably be on Sportscenter’s Top Ten at some point.
Keanau Post, Missouri: Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers combined brought down an averaged of 14 boards a game last year for the Tigers. Both are graduated, leaving two spots to fill for Frank Haith. Southwestern Illinois Community College forward Keanau Post will look to provide production in the paint for Mizzou. The 6-foot-11 Canadian native averaged 12.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game earning second-team Junior College All-American honors.
Joseph Ucehbo, Pittsburgh: With Steven Adams now a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jamie Dixon will look to Joseph Uchebo, a former N.C. State signee, to help down low as the Panthers enter the ACC. The Chipola Community College (Fla.) product posted a double-double of 12.3 points and 12.3 rebounds a night for Chipola as a sophomore, and he missed part of the season rehabbing a knee injury.
Yanick Moreira, SMU: The Mustangs big season officially starts next season with Emmanuel Mudiay, but Larry Brown has his team ready to make strides again this year. The addition everyone knows about is five-star guard Keith Frazier. But on the inside, newcomer Yanick Moreira of South Plains Community College (Texas) will be a presence, as he averaged 18.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.3 blocks per game and was a first-team Junior College All-American.
Other names to know: Chad Frazier, UAB; Cameron Forte, Georgia; Desmond Lee, N.C. State; Algie Key, Alabama; Jamal Jones, Texas A&M