Reggie Smith ’50-50′ for Saturday at Illinois

The first game that Marquette transfer Reggie Smith can be eligible to play in is this Saturday at Illinois.

But will he be?

According to UNLV coach Dave Rice, that all depends on how fast his grades are processed and posted this week after the 6-foot sophomore completes his final exams.

Smith transferred to UNLV in time for the start of the spring semester last season, making him eligible at the conclusion of the current semester if his grades are up to snuff, per NCAA rules.

Following Monday’s team practice, Rice called it a 50-50 chance that Smith will be declared eligible in time for Saturday’s game in the speedy guard’s hometown of Chicago, Ill. Rice said that Smith is in good academic standing, making it sound as if his eligibility in time for the Rebels’ game against the Illini mostly depends on the paperwork being pushed through in time.

UNLV (9-2) will take on UTEP (2-4) on Wednesday night in its first game at the Thomas & Mack Center since Nov. 22 before heading to Chicago on Friday. The 19th-ranked Illini are currently 10-0, and UNLV will be out for revenge after Illinois humiliated them in the opening round of last season’s NCAA tournament in Tulsa, Okla., 73-59.

Smith’s arrival is not only highly-anticipated because of his explosive athletic ability, but he will also provide some relief off of the bench for starting guards Oscar Bellfield and Anthony Marshall, who are currently first and second on the team, respectively, in minutes per game. The two are combining to average 63.7 minutes an outing, and the wear has appeared to take its toll some in the last week or so, with UNLV dropping two of its last three games.

Rice said that if Smith’s grades are not posted in time for Saturday’s game, he should be ready to go by next Monday when UNLV takes on Louisiana-Monroe at the Mack.