UNLV sophomore guard Karam Mashour to seek transfer

6-foot-6 Nazareth, Israel, native will look for an opportunity to continue his college career in the United States

In an expected roster move, UNLV sophomore guard Karam Mashour will seek a transfer from the program, according to AAU coach Anthony Brown.

The UNLV athletic department later confirmed that he was granted a relese from the program via a press release.

Mashour, a Nazareth, Israel native who appeared in 25 games over two years, averaging 1.9 points and 1.2 rebounds per contest, will stay in the country and take a second shot at the college game.

The 6-foot-6 wing was recruited to UNLV by former coach Lon Kruger under the radar two summers ago. After coming to Las Vegas to live with family in town, Mashour played in a handful of tournaments for Brown’s Las Vegas Prospects squad. His size and ability to slash from the perimeter and score at the rim drew him immediate interest, as programs such as Florida and UCLA began to call.

But being new to the country and a lack of familiarity with the language led him to stay close to family.

As a freshman, Kruger urged Mashour to redshirt and take his time adapting to both the American culture and the American game. Also, with a deep roster, it was tough for Kruger to promise Mashour any kind of substantive playing time. But, against the former Rebel coach’s wishes, Mashour passed on the redshirt. He averaged 7.4 minutes in 12 appearances, but his flaws were apparent, such as struggling on the defensive end and trying to develop a consistent outside shot.

Last summer, UNLV forward Mike Moser took Mashour under his wing, the two moved into an apartment together and Moser even worked Mashour out after games this season when Mashour was frustrated with a lack of playing time under first-year coach Dave Rice.

No one ever accused Mashour of not being a diligent worker, but with plenty of teammates ahead of him on Rice’s depth chart — and even more coming next season — the writing was on the wall.

The highlight of Mashour’s frustrating sophomore campaign came in the form of a vicious baseline dunk in the second half of a Jan. 5 blowout win at Cal State Bakersfield. But the lowlight came when, well, that frustration came to a head. Late in a Feb. 1 blowout of Colorado State at the Thomas & Mack Center, Rice asked Mashour to check-in for some mop-up minutes, but Mashour, after taking a few steps towards the scorer’s table during a timeout, declined the opportunity to play.

Mashour’s uncle, Jason Awad, said that playing time was the only motivating factor behind Mashour opting to transfer. He’s taken major steps in terms of learning the language, and has succeeded greatly in the classroom, earning a GPA just north of 3.3 last semester. Awad said he’s on pace to top that number this semester.

“For us, it was just difficult to see him sitting on the bench when he was working really hard,” Awad said. “And we understand the coaches’ dilemma with that, also, with the situation they were in and the talent the team has, specifically at his position.

“He’s a talented young man, and he wants more (playing) time instead of sitting on the bench.”

Mashour’s departure leaves UNLV with two open scholarships. One is likely to be used for another piece on the 2012-13 roster. In terms of prep prospects, UNLV’s top target is Findlay Prep forward Anthony Bennett — the No. 7 senior in the country, according to Rivals.com. He is expected to choose in the next few weeks from a list of schools that includes UNLV, Florida, Kentucky, Washington and Oregon. There are a handful of other high school seniors and transfers who are possibilities for that spot should Bennett fall through.

As for the second scholarship, it is likely to be carried over into next season, and will be used for either a mid-year transfer or a high school player in the 2013 senior class.

Mashour’s next destination is not yet known, and Brown said that a short list of schools should be completed in the next few days. It turns out that his decision to not redshirt during the 2010-11 season won’t hurt him in the long run, as he has a redshirt year to burn and two to play should he end up at another Division-I program.