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: sophomore guard Bryce Dejean-Jones.
Bryce Dejean-Jones has been waiting a long time for this.
After playing his freshman season at USC and opening some eyes with his athleticism and NBA body, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard transfered to UNLV. And due to NCAA rules, he had to sit out one season before becoming eligible. So while the Rebels were coming alive last year — running and gunning, winning 26 games, beating No. 1 UNC, making a trip to the NCAA tournament — Dejean-Jones was watching from the sideline.
He was, however, allowed to practice with the team. And that’s what he did. Every practice became game day for Dejean-Jones, and more than one observer considered him to be the Rebels’ best player on some days last season.
Coming into this season, Dejean-Jones was more than ready to get on the court and do it for real. Unfortunately, he would have to wait a bit longer. During an offseason workout, Dejean-Jones skied for a ridiculous dunk and landed awkwardly, breaking his left (non-shooting) hand. It would be another four weeks before he’d be able to resume running with the Rebels.
After waiting a whole year, Dejean-Jones wasn’t going to let another month get him down.
“It was disappointing when it happened,” said Dejean-Jones, “but I just wanted to keep working and make sure when I came back I was up to speed with the rest of the team. I did a lot of running, I shot a lot of one-handed jumpers, just tried to do whatever I could so I could help the team when I came back.”
Dejean-Jones got his cast removed on Thursday morning and practiced later that day, albeit it in a limited role. Coach Dave rice eased him back into action, allowing him to run through drills but keeping him out of live scrimmages and 5-on-5 work where contact is inevitible. Dejean-Jones didn’t play in Saturday’s closed scrimmage against UCLA, but he’s expected to resume full-contact practice on Monday.
Back at full health, Dejean-Jones should bring a dynamic edge to the Rebels. His measurables scream “NBA,” and his skills have improved since his freshman year at USC. Dejean-Jones is a quality shooter with a high release, and his long strides help him run the floor in a flash. The one word that describes all aspects of his game is “smooth” — you can check out his electrifying performance at last year’s Scarlet & Grey Showcase here.
Dejean-Jones said he expects to play in Wednesday’s exhibition game against Dixie State, and that should be a good indication of how far along he is. Coach Dave Rice expects him to make a big impact this season, even if it takes some time to work him back into the rotation.
“Bryce will be terrific for us,” said Rice. “He’s a versatile player. On the offensive end, he can score in a variety of ways. He can score from the perimeter, we can post him up, he’s a good passer. He’s got all those offensive skills. We expect big things from him this year.”
For a team with a stacked frontcourt but some uncertainty in the backcourt, a big season from Dejean-Jones could propel the Rebels late into March.
But for now, he’s just happy to be back on the court for the start of the season.
“It’s been a long time for me, a long process,” said Dejean-Jones. “Everybody’s been working to get to this point, so I’m looking forward to it.”
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