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Three-star wing commits to UNLV

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UNLV landed its second recruit of the week on Friday night, as Carlos Johnson, a three-star wing, announced his commitment via Twitter.

“Happy to announce my commitment to UNLV,” he tweeted.

Johnson, who attends Findlay Prep in nearby Henderson, Nevada, joins guard Christian Vital, who picked the Rebels on Wednesday night, and four-star forward Justin Jackson in the Class of 2016.

The 6-foot-4 Johnson played for the Oakland Soldiers on the grassroots circuit, averaging 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game in 19 appearances in the Nike EYBL.

UNLV commit Derrick Jones jumps over four people to win another dunk contest (VIDEO)

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UNLV commit Derrick Jones might need to build a trophy room for all of his dunk contest trophies this spring, because the native of Philadelphia is bringing home a lot of hardware.

Jones won another dunk contest on Saturday night as he jumped over four people to win the battle held at the Mary Kline Classic.

Pregame Shootaround: More solid conference play but a non-conference clash takes the Sunday spotlight

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GAME OF THE DAY: UNLV at No. 13 Kansas, Sun. 4:30 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s weekend preview:

Two weeks ago, this game would not have made this list as the Rebels were one of the more disappointing teams in the country. But they’ve bounced back with a win over Arizona in Vegas and a five point loss to Wyoming on the road. Christian Wood suddenly looks like he’ll be the best big man on the floor, and Kansas has been struggling enough that the Rebels just may be able to pull off the upset in Lawrence.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Loyola (IL) at No. 23 Northern Iowa, 3:30 p.m.

The Missouri Valley Conference has four teams with 11 wins for the first time ever at this point in the calendar year and two of those teams face off in a nice Sunday afternoon tilt. Loyola has been a pleasant surprise early this season as Christian Thomas and Milton Doyle have been a potent one-two punch while Northern Iowa will look to avenge a loss at Evansville earlier in the week.

UPSET WATCH: No. 21 Washington at Stanford, 10:00 p.m.

After starting 2014-15 with an 11-0 record, the Huskies have lost two straight games heading into a Sunday night clash at Stanford. Washington just hasn’t looked in sync these last few outings and they’ll need to pick up their play to knock off the Cardinal. Stanford, meanwhile, will still be adjusting to playing without freshman forward Reid Travis, the team’s leading rebounder. Travis has a stress fracture, so the Cardinal could shift their lineup in a number of unique ways. The Chasson Randle and Nigel Williams-Goss battle will be one of the best guard matchups in the Pac-12.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR: 

  • There’s been some drama in Louisville this season and the No. 5 Cardinals will try to figure themselves out at Wake Forest in the team’s ACC opener. Let’s see how Chris Jones responds to being benched and if Louisville looks good in only its second true road game of the year.
  • Rivalry game in the Pac-12 as No. 8 Arizona hosts Arizona State. There aren’t many juicy storylines for this season’s game, but the Sun Devils are still figuring themselves out after re-stocking their roster and this will be a good indicator of where they stand in the league.
  • Another intriguing Valley game as Illinois State travels to No. 16 Wichita State. The Redbirds are not an easy team to face, and if they’re fully healthy (a big if in this one), they could make this a game. Illinois State gave Old Dominion its only loss of the year and only fell to VCU by four points.
  • Speaking of Old Dominion, they have a tough Conference USA road test coming at Charlotte. The Monarchs have looked like a potential favorite in the league to this point, but they’ve only played one true road game all season.
  • A Pac-12 battle of two teams heading in opposite directions as UCLA goes on the road to face No. 10 Utah. The Bruins have lost four straight games while Utah has won four straight.

TOP 25 GAMES:

  • No. 4 Wisconsin at Northwestern, 8:30 p.m.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES:

  • UCF at Temple, 12:00 p.m.
  • Houston at Tulsa, 2:00 p.m.
  • USC at Colorado, 2:00 p.m.
  • Washington State at Cal, 6:00 p.m.

UNLV’s Christian Wood throws down a nasty windmill (VIDEO)

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UNLV sophomore Christian Wood has always had a lot of upside and he’s a fluid 6-foot-11 forward. Against Southern Utah last night, Wood threw down this nasty windmill. For a big man, it’s impressive how fluid this play looked and Wood made it look easy.

As one of the most improved sophomores in the country, Wood is averaging 14.6 points, 10 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game on 51 percent shooting.

(H/T: UNLV Athletics)

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.

2014-15 Season Preview: Key assistant coaching hires

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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.

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

While head coaches run college basketball programs across America from top-to-bottom, it is often the three assistant coaches that do a lot of the difficult day-to-day tasks. From scheduling, to running practices, to recruiting, there are a lot of valuable assistant coaches out there doing these jobs.

Some assistants are fine serving a head coach for much of their career while others jump from assistant job to assistant job before they get to run a program of their own as a head coach. Either way, many of these assistant coaches are valuable members to the basketball program.

Here are 10 difference-making assistant coaching hires from this offseason. Some of these guys help the head guy land talented recruits while others are good at developing talent and incorporating Xs and Os.

1. Keelon Lawson Sr., MemphisJosh Pastner hired Keelon Lawson, Sr. to recruit his sons. The plan is working so far as K.J. Lawson and Dedric Lawson are both committed members of the 2015 class — after Dedric re-classified from the Class of 2016 and committed to Memphis. There are two younger Lawson brothers that are also reportedly very good prospects as well. If Pastner gets four top-1oo players from this hire, it’s a home run.

2. Rob Fulford, MissouriThe recent trend of prep school coach to college assistant coach continues as former Huntington Prep head coach Rob Fulford joined Kim Anderson’s new staff at Mizzou. This hire, along with keeping former assistant Tim Fuller, are two major recruiting-focused moves from Anderson and Fulford has already paid off with the 2014 commitment of former Huntington wing Teki Gill-Caesar. Fulford has proven he can recruit before at Huntington Prep and that should continue in the college ranks.

3. Kenny Johnson, LouisvilleThe former Indiana assistant left Tom Crean’s staff to replace Kevin Keatts (new head coach at UNC-Wilmington) at Louisville. With ties to Nike EYBL powerhouse Team Takeover, Johnson is a noted recruiter with a lot of connections on the east coast. Replacing Keatts, who did a great job recruiting at Louisville, will not be easy, but Johnson has the resumé to get it done.

4. Yanni Hufnagal, CalHufnagel is one of the most highly-regarded recruiters of high-academic prospects in the country and Cal is getting an assistant coach who recruited high-quality players to Harvard and Vanderbilt. Cuonzo Martin has already reeled in 2016 wing Oscar Frayer at Cal, thanks in-part to Hufnagel, and the assistant has been a tireless recruiter getting Cal caught up in the 2015 class. Hufnagel has a lot of west coast connections, so this is a natural fit.

MORE: Best non-conference games | NBCSports.com’s Preseason Top 25 Countdown

5. Barry “Slice” Rohrssen, Kentucky – To replace former assistant coach Orlando Antigua after he took the head job at South Florida, John Calipari went to Pitt and hired a noted recruiter in Barry “Slice” Rohrssen. Slice helped get Mustapha Heron to Pitt in the 2016 class and has a lot of ties throughout the recruiting world that should open up doors for Calipari even more. Not that Kentucky needs help landing players, but Rohrssen is just another way to get a foot in the door of elite players.

6. Yasir Rosemond, GeorgiaRosemond isn’t as experienced or highly-touted as some of the others on this list, but he has a proven track record at Samford by recruiting two consecutive SoCon Freshman of the Year winners.

7. Barret Peery, Arizona State – The former Indian Hills head coach has a lot of experience at the junior college level and helped Herb Sendek re-load the roster with junior college prospects on the 2014-15 team.

8. Adam Cohen, Vanderbilt – Cohen has followed the trail that Hufnagel blazed the last two offseasons, going from Harvard to Vanderbilt, and he should be able to have the Commodores in the mix for some talented high-academic prospects.

9. Stephen Thompson Sr., Oregon State – New Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle needed another talented prospect to pair with his son, Tres, in the 2015 class so he added the father of a four-star guard. Now the Beavers have both committed and the future is brighter in Corvallis.

10. Ryan Miller, UNLVDave Rice hiring the experienced Miller is a good move. A former assistant at Auburn and New Mexico, Miller is a noted recruiter and should keep the talent pipeline flowing to Las Vegas.