Rashad Vaughn

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UNLV’s Rashad Vaughn signs an agent and enters NBA Draft

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UNLV freshman wing Rashad Vaughn is officially entering the NBA Draft after weeks of speculation. It was initially reported by Yahoo Sports that Vaughn would enter the draft, only for the freshman to later refute that report on Twitter.

Now, Vaughn has officially signed with an agent as Draft Express reported that Vaughn has signed with agent Omar Wilkes.

Vaughn was a McDonald’s All-American out of Findley Prep, by way of Minnesota, but missed 10 games to end the season with a knee injury. He averaged 17.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game on the year and shot nearly 44 percent from the field.

This was viewed as a likely departure for the Runnin’ Rebels in the last few weeks and now they lose a valuable scoring guard in Vaughn.

UNLV freshman Rashad Vaughn publicly refutes report that he’s entering 2015 NBA Draft

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UNLV freshman Rashad Vaughn had a strong freshman season in which he led the Rebels in scoring at 17.8 points per game.

The NBA Draft chatter has already begun for the 6-foot-6 freshman guard as Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday that Vaughn will enter the 2015 NBA Draft.

Although Wojnarowski has reported that Vaughn is leaving college hoops for The League, Vaughn refuted the report on Twitter on Friday.

We could very well see Vaughn change his tone and enter the NBA Draft this season, but, for now, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Vaughn was a McDonald’s All-American out of Findlay Prep, by way of Minnesota, but missed 10 games during the season with a knee injury. He also averaged 4.8 rebounds per game on the year and shot nearly 44 percent from the field.

Draft Express currently has Vaughn as a second round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft as the No. 48 pick overall.

UNLV’s leading scorer out with a torn meniscus

Rashad Vaughn (AP)
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Rashad Vaughn tore the meniscus in his left knee in a win over Fresno State on Tuesday night.

Vaughn, a freshman guard and a potential first round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, was UNLV’s leading scorer this season at 17.8 points. Vaughn also missed a game earlier this season after suffering a back injury a loss at Arizona State.

The school announced the news on Thursday.

“We are very disappointed for Rashad,” head coach Dave Rice said. “He is having a great freshman year and has been an extremely valuable player on our team. We know he will work very hard to get back on the court as soon as possible and we will support him in every way.”

There’s a chance that Vaughn could be back with the team in time for the Mountain West tournament, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is an absolutely brutal blow for a team that finally looked like it was coming together. The Rebels had won four of their last five games and have a stretch of the season coming up where that streak could have been extended. The Mountain West is not as formidable as it has been in past seasons, meaning that a run through the league tournament is certainly feasible for a team with a pair of potential pros on the roster.

The question now will be whether or not Vaughn is back in time for that tournament.

Vaughn missed two months as a senior in high school at Findlay Prep with an injury in that same knee.

UNLV upsets No. 3 Arizona

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UNLV upset No. 3 Arizona, 71-67, on Tuesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, handing the Wildcats their first loss of the season.

Christian Wood scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Rashad Vaughn added 21 points. The two combined to shoot 50 percent from the field. All five starters for Arizona scored in double figures led by T.J. McConnell with 14 points and seven assists.

With 40 seconds remaining, Arizona had three chances, and came up short each time. Stanley Johnson poked away a pass to the high post. McConnell hit the streaking Johnson on the 2-on-1, but Johnson missed the layup. After UNLV a missed free throw, the Wildcats settled for a Brandon Ashley three rather than go for the tie, which rattled off the rim.

Patrick McCaw split a pair of free throws, giving UNLV a 70-67 lead. Johnson committed a turnover before Arizona could get a shot off.

This was an important win for a young UNLV roster. The Runnin’ Rebels are in the middle of stretch where they play three ranked teams in 16 days. On Saturday, No. 14 Utah took down UNLV, 59-46. On Jan. 4, the Rebels go on the road to play Kansas. Let’s see what UNLV does with this signature, non-conference victory when the team travels to Lawrence.

For Arizona, this was the second road test in the span of five days. On Friday night, the Wildcats got a fight from a talented UTEP team in El Paso. Given the circumstances, a talented team in need of a non-conference win, and the issues the Wildcats faced — foul trouble Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Kaleb Tarczewski and freshman mistakes from Johnson — on Tuesday night, they were still in a position to force overtime or win in the final minutes.

UNLV has Southern Utah on Saturday. Arizona has time to regroup with its next game on Jan. 4 against Arizona State, the start of Pac-12 play for the conference favorites.

Ugly UNLV loss magnified by injury to star freshman

Rashad Vaughn (AP)
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UNLV had one of the weirdest losses you’ll see this season on Wednesday night in Tempe, Arizona.

The Rebels jumped out to a 21-6 lead on Arizona State in the first seven minutes, but the rest of their night was disastrous. The Sun Devils managed to level the score by halftime, eventually winning 77-55. That’s a 71-34 run over the final 33 minutes for those of you scoring at home.

To add injury to insult, UNLV’s star freshman Rashad Vaughn suffered what the Las Vegas Sun’s Taylor Bern termed a “non-contact back injury” midway through the second half. He hobbled back to the locker room after he was hurt and didn’t return to the court.

Freshman Jordan Cornish said he thought it was back spasms, per the Sun, but there hasn’t been any official word as of Thursday morning.

2014-15 Season Preview: San Diego State leads what will be a wild Mountain West race

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we focus on the Mountain West.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

Last season in the Mountain West provided some surprises, with the team picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll (San Diego State) winning the regular season title outright and Nevada finishing in a tie for third place after being picked to finish ninth last October. Seven teams won at least nine conference games in 2013-14, and heading into the 2014-15 season many hold the belief that seven teams have a realistic chance of winning the Mountain West. Steve Fisher’s team is seen as the favorites despite losing Mountain West Player of the Year Xavier Thames, and the order of the next six teams is anyone’s guess.

FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:

1. Just one first team All-Mountain West selection returns: Thames, New Mexico’s Cameron Bairstow and Kendall Williams, and Nevada’s Deonte Burton have all moved on to the professional ranks. The lone returnee: Wyoming’s Larry Nance Jr., who missed the final seven games due to a torn ACL. Nance is back on the floor for the Cowboys, who are in that mix of teams looking to win the conference. If he hits the ground running, Larry Shyatt’s team is capable of contending.

2. The Mountain West also lost its top five rebounders: This fact can’t be glossed over, with UNLV losing Roscoe Smith and Khem Birch, Boise State moving on without Ryan Watkins, and San Diego State (Josh Davis) and New Mexico (Alex Kirk) also having to account for the loss of their best rebounders. However, it should be noted that each of these programs has added some solid front court talent in both the freshman and junior college ranks. And when it comes to Boise State, the Broncos got a lot taller inside after going through last season with just one player who stood 6-foot-8.

3. UNLV adds one of the nation’s top freshman classes, and a very important senior transfer: After briefly flirting with the possibility of moving across the country, Dave Rice returned to his alma mater, where he received a new contract and then put the finishing touches on one of the top recruiting classes in the country. Guard Rashad Vaughn may be seen as the jewel of the class, but there’s also big man Goodluck Okonoboh, forward Dwayne Morgan and guards Jordan Cornish and Patrick McCaw to consider as well. UNLV’s most important addition, however, is former San Francisco PG Cody Doolin, who gives them the on-court leader they so desperately needed a season ago.

4. UNLV wasn’t the only Mountain West program that landed a Top 20 recruiting class: Rivals.com ranked two Mountain West recruiting classes in the top 20 of its rankings this spring, with UNLV coming in fifth and San Diego State 17th. Steve Fisher’s class is one reason why many saw last season as a “bridge” year for the program, and we all saw what happened there (31-5, Sweet 16 appearance). Now they add guards Kevin Zabo and Trey Kell and forwards Malik Pope and Zylan Cheatham, as well as Arizona transfer Angelo Chol, to an experienced cast led by Winston Shepard and J.J. O’Brien. SDSU’s deep, athletic and they’ll once again be tough to score points on.

5. Colorado State returns the top scoring tandem in the Mountain West: Forward J.J. Avila (16.6 ppg) and guard Daniel Bejarano (16.3 ppg) are back for their senior seasons, and they’re just two reasons why Larry Eustachy’s Rams will be in the middle of the Mountain West race. Both of those players began their college careers at other schools, and they’ll be joined by a deep group of transfers that includes guard John Gillon (UALR) and Antwan Scott (Grambling State), and forwards Tiel Daniels (Southern Illinois) and Stanton Kidd (North Carolina Central). Of those four three were with the CSU program last season (Scott’s the exception), which should help from a chemistry standpoint.

PRESEASON MOUNTAIN WEST PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Larry Nance Jr., Wyoming

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Wyoming’s Larry Nance Jr. (AP Photo)

While it remains to be seen just how explosive Nance will be following the knee injury that ended his junior season, the fact of the matter is that he can affect the game in a variety of ways. Nance finished last season ranked in the top ten in the Mountain West in scoring (tenth- 15.4 ppg), rebounding (sixth- 8.6 rpg), field goal percentage (second- 54.4%), steals (fifth- 1.4 spg) and blocked shots (fourth- 2.1 bpg). He’s certainly capable of putting together a similar season in 2014-15.

THE REST OF THE ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST FIRST TEAM:

  • Anthony Drmic, Boise State: Averaged 15.9 ppg and 4.5 rpg last season, and he’s a better perimeter shooter than he showed as a junior (34.1% 3PT).
  • Daniel Bejarano, Colorado State: Bejarano followed up his Sixth Man of the Year award in 2013 with a first team All-Mountain West spot as a redshirt junior.
  • Winston Shepard, San Diego State: Shepard will be key for the Aztecs as they look to account for the loss of Xavier Thames. And if Shepard can make opponents at least respect his jump shot, look out.
  • J.J. Avila, Colorado State: Avila came in and earned third team all-conference honors in his first season at CSU, averaging 16.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

FIVE MORE NAMES TO KNOW:

  • Dwayne Polee II, San Diego State
  • Rashad Vaughn, UNLV
  • Paul Watson, Fresno State
  • Derrick Marks, Boise State
  • Deshawn Delaney, New Mexico

BREAKOUT STAR: Dwayne Polee, San Diego State

Polee may have finished the season averaging 8.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, but he was a different player from February on. Polee scored in double figures in nine of SDSU’s final 14 games, including a stretch of five straight double-digit outings to end the season. And with Thames gone, there’s room for Polee to take another step forward production-wise.

COACH UNDER PRESSURE: David Carter, Nevada

With Dave Rice landing a new deal at UNLV this summer and recruiting well, he’s in good shape for the time being. That brings us to Carter, who despite managing to finish tied for third in the conference last season led his team to an overall record of 15-17. Can the Wolf Pack once again surprise people within the league while also improving their overall record?

ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING …: Can multiple Mountain West teams reach the second weekend?

I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT: How wide-open this conference race will be.

FIVE NON-CONFERENCE GAMES TO CIRCLE ON YOUR CALENDAR:

  • November 17, Utah at San Diego State
  • November 21, UNLV vs. Stanford (in Brooklyn, New York)
  • November 22, Boise State at Wisconsin
  • December 10, Colorado State at Colorado
  • December 23, Arizona at UNLV

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @GeoffGrammer

PREDICTED FINISH

1. San Diego State: Xavier Thames is a big loss, but there’s still plenty of talent at Steve Fisher’s disposal.
2. Colorado State: Larry Eustachy’s roster is stocked full of transfers ready to contribute immediately.
3. Boise State: Drmic and Derrick Marks lead the way for a team that has more size than it did last season.
4. UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels are loaded with talent, but will the pieces fit together cohesively?
5. Wyoming: Larry Nance Jr. returns from his torn ACL, and guard Riley Grabau is back as well.
6. New Mexico: The Lobos have some questions to answer, but given their recent run of success it wouldn’t be a surprise if they made another run at the title.
7. Fresno State: Mountain West dark horse? That could be the case, with Julien Lewis joining a group led by Marvelle Harris and Paul Watson.
8. Nevada: The Wolf Pack have the unenviable task of accounting for the loss of electric PG Deonte Burton.
9. Air Force: Dave Pilipovich lost his leading scorer in Tre’ Coggins, but that trip to Colorado Springs can be a tough one.
10. Utah State: Stew Morrill’s system has always been tough to defend, but the personnel losses may be too much to overcome.
11. San Jose State: Another rough year for Dave Wojick, and the Spartans won’t play in the conference tournament either due to APR sanctions.