UNLV adds another piece in UConn transfer Roscoe Smith

6-foot-8 Baltimore native likely to redshirt in 2012-13, comes to Las Vegas with a national title under his belt

UNLV started this week by losing a Smith. The program now heads into Memorial Day weekend having added a Smith.

Four days after junior point guard Reggie Smith announced his intentions to transfer from UNLV, 6-foot-8 UConn transfer Roscoe Smith committed to Dave Rice and his staff on Friday afternoon.

Smith took his one and only official visit since announcing his intent to transfer last week when he made a two-day, mid-week trip to Las Vegas. Now, the only remaining question involves his eligibility.

With UConn headed for a postseason ban next season, the fact that his remaining eligibility outlasts the sanctions against his former program keeps him from being automatically eligible immediately. Such was not the case for fellow UConn defector Alex Oriakhi, who is eligible next season at Missouri due to only having one year left to play.

Rice confirmed on Friday that UNLV will, in fact, apply to the NCAA for a waiver that would make Smith eligible immediately. However, it is believed by many that Smith will likely end up redshirting during the 2012-13 season — A scenario which UNLV would probably prefer.

UNLV is loaded up in the front court heading into next year.

A trio of returners is highlighted by the presence of junior Mike Moser, who opted to pass up June’s NBA draft for one more year at UNLV. This season, he’ll play primarily at the small forward post, while junior Carlos Lopez and senior Quintrell Thomas will be expected to plug some holes up front. UNLV also adds plenty of firepower up front with McDonald’s All-American Anthony Bennett, Pitt transfer — and former McDonald’s All-American — Khem Birch, who is eligible at the conclusion of the fall semester, and high-flying Bishop Gorman grad Demetris Morant.

Morant, like Smith, is a likely candidate to redshirt this upcoming season, as both would add depth up front that might be even more needed in 2013-14. Morant is an elite-level athlete who could still stand to add some upper body strength and needs to develop his offensive game some.

Smith, of course, comes to campus this summer able to contribute right away.

The Baltimore native landed at UConn as the nation’s No. 37 overall recruit in the 2010 class, according to Rivals.com. As a freshman, he averaged 6.3 points and 5.2 rebounds while starting all 41 games for a Huskies team that caught fire at the right time and ran to a national title.

His numbers dipped some as a sophomore (4.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg), but the experience he brings and his ability to defend strong at four different positions more than balance that out in Rice’s eyes.

At the very least, he’ll bring tons to the table right away in practices as a member of UNLV’s scout team.

“Defensively, he’ll be as good as anyone in our program,” he said. “He’s got a good mid-post game, but can also face the basket and score.

“Also, he was coached for two years by one of the greatest coaches of all-time (Jim Calhoun). There’s a toughness factor from being from the UConn program, and he’s played in some huge games.”

What Smith’s commitment to UNLV also means is that the staff is continuing to gain strong footing in Baltimore, which is desired recruiting territory for Rice & Co. The Rebels’ other incoming prospect from Charm City is combo guard Daquan Cook, who following Reggie Smith’s transfer is now less likely to take a redshirt in 2012-13, and should be UNLV’s fifth guard from the day he arrives on campus.

UNLV also heads into the upcoming campaign with an open scholarship, which is a situation Rice prefers, as it opens up the option of pursuing enticing mid-year transfer prospects.

Or, it could be used towards another member of the 2013 high school senior class, which Rice and his staff will head out onto the road next month to begin scouting more carefully. Currently, Findlay Prep 6-foot-8 senior-to-be Chris Wood is UNLV’s lone commit in the 2013 class. UNLV is also set to add Dantley Walker for the 2013-14 season. The scoring legend from rural Nevada signed a letter of intent in the spring of 2011, and is currently on a two-year mission in Spokane, Wash.

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