Source: Reggie Smith ‘unlikely to play’ Saturday at Illinois

It appears that the highly-anticipated UNLV debut of Marquette transfer Reggie Smith will not take place until Monday night when the Rebels host Louisiana-Monroe at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The long-targeted date for the 6-foot guard’s first game in uniform was Dec. 17 — this Saturday — against Illinois at the United Center in Chicago — Smith’s hometown.

Coach Dave Rice said after Monday’s practice that the chances of Smith’s first semester grades being posted in time for Smith to fly to Chicago with the team on Friday were 50-50. On Thursday night, a source close to the situation told that Smith ‘likely won’t be able to play’ when the Rebels and 19th-ranked Illini tip-off at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Smith’s grades do not appear to be the issue, but it’s rather the process of getting his final fall semester grades posted. Smith took his last exam of the semester on Thursday morning, and as of late Thursday night, his grades had yet to be posted.

At this point, it appears that it would take a minor miracle for him to be able to board the team plane just after noon on Friday. Once his grades are posted, UNLV would have to file a special waiver application with the NCAA to get him declared eligible before Saturday, which is when UNLV’s fall semester actually comes to an end. Without being declared eligible, it is against NCAA rules for UNLV to pay for Smith to be on the flight to Chicago.

Smith transferred to UNLV before the start of the spring semester last season after appearing in eight games at Marquette. Whether his first game comes Saturday or Monday, he’s going to provide instant relief in a backup role for starters Anthony Marshall and Oscar Bellfield, who are both averaging over 31 minutes per game. Those heavy minutes have taken their toll on the two veterans of late.