Yes, the smell of pigskin is very much in the air, but college basketball season is right around the corner, too. In fact, various Midnight Madness festivities are planned across the country this week, and UNLV is getting in on the hoops holiday with its annual Scarlet & Gray Showcase on October 16 at the Thomas & Mack Center (with a more rational 7 p.m. start time).
Details for the event, which once again is free to the public, have yet to be released, but previous years have featured legends games, 3-point competitions, dunk contests and 5-on-5 scrimmages for current Rebels. Using the latter three events as a template, here’s how we’re handicapping this year’s showcase:
Potential contestants: Cody Doolin, Rashad Vaughn, Dantley Walker.
Vaughn is a super talent who will probably lead the Rebels in 3s this season, while Doolin is a steady shooter who has made his share of big shots. But it’s hard to pick against Walker, a prep legend who holds the Nevada high school record for most made 3-pointers. Our pick: Walker.
Slam dunk contest
Potential contestants: Dwayne Morgan, Kendall Smith, Chris Wood.
The Rebels didn’t have a dunk contest last year, so technically Anthony Bennett is still the defending champ. Wood throws down some nice jams in warm-ups, but crowds are typically bearish on big men in these contests. Smith is an explosive guard with a high vertical and an aggressive dunking style, while Morgan is an athletic 6-foot-8 specimen known for his finishing ability. Our pick: Morgan.
5-on-5 Intrasquad Scrimmage
This is the main event, but there’s no way to know how coach Dave Rice is going to divvy up the teams. So let’s hypothetically split them into freshmen vs. veterans. The freshman team of Vaughn, Morgan, Walker, Goodluck Okonoboh, Jordan Cornish and Patrick McCaw is crazy athletic, but the veterans have seasoned guard play with Doolin, Smith and Jelan Kendrick on the perimeter. Throw in Wood and redshirt transfer Ben Carter on the inside, and the vets have the edge—for now. By the end of the season, it could be a different story.