As coach Marvin Menzies contemplates another round of rebuilding this offseason, he knows UNLV may lose three of the top four scorers from this year’s team. Senior guards Jovan Mooring and Jordan Johnson will depart, and there’s a strong possibility that freshman Brandon McCoy will leave early for the NBA Draft.
But Menzies has some key pieces in place for next season.
Shakur Juiston has proven to be a steady, efficient scorer for the Rebels. If McCoy does leave, Juiston will have no problem filling the role of go-to frontcourt scorer.
“He’s a tough kid mentally,” Menzies says. “He’s driven. He plays with a purpose. He doesn’t have any fear.”
Juiston has been one of the most efficient players in the Mountain West. His 63.9 field goal percentage was the best in the conference. He is nearly unstoppable when he gets the ball within 12 feet from the basket.
Juiston has benefited from his frontcourt partner’s presence. Stopping McCoy is most opponents’ top priority. While his efficiency may drop from increased attention next season, Juiston should still put up monster numbers for the Rebels.
His scoring prowess is not Juiston’s only attribute. When UNLV needed one stop on Boise State to force overtime on February 3, Menzies chose Juiston to defend Mountain West Player of the Year candidate Chandler Hutchison. Juiston forced a missed shot to get the Rebels into overtime.
He also is the Rebels’ best rebounder, averaging 10 boards per game. Juiston is as close to a complete player as UNLV will have next season. He will be a senior by then and will likely be the No. 1 scoring option for the Rebels.
Alongside Juiston is Tervell Beck, a freshman forward who was inserted into the starting lineup midway through the season. Beck is more naturally fitted to play in the post, but Menzies has used him as the small forward in the starting lineup.
For the 2018–2019 season, Beck has a good shot to start with Juiston in the frontcourt, which would give the Rebels an extremely efficient pairing.
Beck brings some of the same qualities as Juiston on the offensive end. Both play below the rim, but rarely miss. Beck’s 62 percent shooting on two-pointers was second only to Juiston.
Beck will have to improve defensively, where he has been too slow to guard perimeter players, and on the glass, where he gathered just the sixth most rebounds on the team. But his offensive upside makes Beck an intriguing option for the next three years.
“He’ll have a great career,” Menzies says. “He’s a humble, hungry, great kid. After four years of wearing the scarlet and gray, he’ll be a lot of people’s favorite.”
The player with most star potential is Amauri Hardy. The freshman guard has been playing behind Johnson and Mooring all season, but he has shown flashes that could make him a standout in the Mountain West.
In preparation for next season, Menzies has let Hardy play some point guard, even when starter Johnson is on the floor.
“I wanted to start to give him that feel and that opportunity. He’s had good possessions and bad possessions. He needs the experience,” Menzies says.
Hardy is at his best when driving to the basket. He has the ability to take defenders one-on-one off the bounce and finish at the rim. He shot a solid 59.5 percent when at the rim and might have a good enough midrange game to make the inefficient long two-point jumper an acceptable shot.
But what UNLV will need to see from Hardy is the ability to command an offense from the point guard spot. He hasn’t gotten many chances this season, and Akron transfer Noah Robotham (a Bishop Gorman High School graduate) may take the point guard spot for just next season, but Hardy showed moments of excellence on pick and rolls.
His ability to read defenses off-ball screens will be a critical component of UNLV’s offense over the next few seasons.
Add in UNLV’s recruiting class, which includes two four-star guards in Trey Woodbury and Bryce Hamilton, and Menzies has set the foundation for the Runnin’ Rebel rebuild. Now it is up to Menzies to develop the core into a winning program.