UNLV’s pool of targets for its final open scholarship in the class of 2012 shrunk from four players to three on Thursday morning.
Findlay Prep wing Winston Shepard, who Rivals.com ranks as the No. 40 overall prospect in the 2012 class, committed to San Diego State on the heels of his official visit to check out Steve Fisher’s program up close.
Shepard, one of the truly elite defenders in the prep ranks, chose SDSU over the likes of UNLV, New Mexico, UTEP, Oklahoma State, Oregon and St. John’s. He’ll add length and depth on both ends of the floor next season to a San Diego State team that should already be loaded. On top of returning the backcourt quartet of Chase Tapley, James Rahon, Xavier Thames and Jamaal Franklin, the Aztecs also add transfers Dwayne Polee (St. John’s), J.J. O’Brien (Utah) and James Johnson (Virginia/mid-year). They now have the crowned jewel of a three-member recruiting class, to boot.
The budding rivalry between SDSU and UNLV will drag out for at least one more season, before SDSU heads to the Big West for hoops beginning with the 2013-14 season. But Thursday’s commitment showed that the program might not have as hard of a time as expected still luring top recruits despite a less attractive conference affiliation.
As for UNLV, Dave Rice and his staff, for the time being, still have one open scholarship to fill heading into next season. Their top remaining targets are Bishop Gorman’s Shabazz Muhammad and a duo of uncommitted players from Findlay Prep in forwards Anthony Bennett and Matt Willms.
Those three won’t make their decisions known until at least next month, and all are expected to sign when the Spring period opens in April.
UNLV’s current incoming class includes a pair of transfers — Bryce Jones from USC and former McDonald’s All-American Khem Birch from Pitt — and a trio of high school seniors — Bouncy Bishop Gorman forward Demetris Morant, Mater Dei (Calif.) gunner Katin Reinhardt and Baltimore point guard Daquan Cook.