UNLV may need its surprise import to play

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With Kendall Wallace and Matt Shaw available this season, UNLV’s searching for some added punch to its lineup. Freshman Karam Mashour may be the guy.

Who would’ve seen that coming?

Mashour came to the United States just six months ago. The 6-6 swingman and Nazareth native played with the Israel 18-and-under national team, but instead of attend Impact Basketball Academy this year, UNLV snagged him. Now he’s learning English, adjusting to campus life and could play a role for a team with NCAA tournament aspirations.

Las Vegas Sun reporter Ryan Greene watched Mashour at the Rebels’ first practice Friday night:

Mashour was then eased into the offensive action with a couple of easy inside looks off of feeds from Derrick Jasper and Justin Hawkins, and by the third of four five-minute periods, he had blossomed.

His best offensive stretch came with back-to-back buckets in that third frame, first driving hard against 6-foot-11 Carlos Lopez and maintaining bodily control in mid-air for a lay-up, then executing an up-and-under move in traffic for two more points.

Rebels coach Lon Kruger’s still deciding if he use Mashour or have him redshirt. But it sounds as if UNLV players think he’s ready.

“A real pleasant surprise,” said fellow newcomer Mike Moser, who will sit out this season following his transfer from UCLA. “I don’t think tonight he even showed half of the impact he’s going to have on this season. I think he’s really going to surprise people even more than he did tonight.”

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.