Meet the Rebels: Savon Goodman

Freshman trying to carve out role as defensive stopper

Leading up to the start of the regular season, RunRebs will be profiling every significant player on the UNLV roster in a series we call “Meet the Rebels.” Today’s focus: freshman forward Savon Goodman.

By the time Savon Goodman committed to UNLV in June of 2012, the Rebels had already hauled in a ridiculous recruiting class.

Top 50 guard Katin Reinhardt had committed the previous August, and top 10 forward Anthony Bennett had pledged to coach Dave Rice just about a month earlier. So it was easy for the Goodman news to slip through the cracks a bit.

A 6-foot-6 forward from Philadelphia, Goodman wasn’t as highly ranked as either Bennett or Reinhardt, and he wasn’t as flashy, either. But now that we’re two weeks into full practices, it’s clear that Goodman’s impact on the program could be just as big.

And that impact could come quickly.

“There’s no doubt that he will have a role on our team this year,” said Rice. “I’m a long way from figuring out exactly who’s going to start and what our rotation is going to be, but Savon definitely has made some very positive strides in earning minutes.”

Goodman has been relentless on the defensive end, using his size, quickness and tenacity to harass opponents. His play during the Scarlet & Gray scrimmage was an eye-opener, as he came up with a handful of steals and generally seemed like the most aggressive guy on the court.

Used mostly as a power forward at Constitution High School (Philadelphia, Pa.), Goodman has the toughness of an undersized big man. His burly frame and natural strength allow him to carve out space in the paint, but Rice and his staff saw the potential for more. They believed Goodman had the quick feet and lateral agility to defend on the perimeter as well, and so far they appear to be right.

“I’m trying to learn how to guard every position,” said Goodman. “In our defensive system I’m a small forward, but I’m allowed to switch to the 1 through the 4 because I can guard the big men and I can stay with a point guard. It’s simple, but also hard at the same time. It’s all a learning experience.”

It’s a unique skill set that conjures memories of one of college basketball’s best defenders of the past 20 years, former Cincinnati star Ruben Patterson. Goodman could eventually become UNLV’s equivalent to Patterson — an ultimate chess piece on the defensive end, and a tone-setter who ends up starting 100-plus games in his college career.

“We look for him in the short-term and the long-term to be a lockdown defender,” said Rice. “He’s still learning how to guard shooters and guard on the perimeter, so it’s a work in progress. But he’s figuring it out. There’s no doubt he’s going to have a great career here.”

Goodman’s offensive game is further away, but he’s shown flashes at that end of the court. He covers ground easily in transition, and he’s fearless when attacking the rim (just ask Mike Moser, who Goodman unsuccessfully tried to dunk on TWICE during the Scarlet & Gray game). His shot needs work, but he’s looked comfortable knocking down the corner 3 in practice.

Still, it’s his defense and energy that will earn him minutes this season. And Goodman is ready to provide it.

“That’s the guy I’m trying to be,” said Goodman. “I want to stop the opposing team’s best player. In our offense, we’re getting up and down, so everyone is getting their buckets. But I want to be that defensive stopper.”

Previous “Meet the Rebels” entries:
Khem Birch (Oct. 23)

Justin Hawkins (Oct. 26)
Katin Reinhardt (Oct. 29)
Anthony Marshall (Oct. 31)

Follow Mike Grimala (@MikeGrimala) on Twitter for 24/7 Rebels updates.

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