Photo by Associated Press
Findlay Prep senior forward Anthony Bennett.
UNLV will enter the fall not having to sweat an NCAA decision regarding the eligibility of top 2012 recruit Anthony Bennett.
Rebels coach Dave Rice confirmed on Thursday morning that the former Findlay Prep star and McDonald's All-American has been cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
"We're excited for Anthony, but we're also very excited for our team," Rice said. "A lot of credit goes to (compliance director) Eric Toliver and (student-athlete academic services director) David Jackson for their hard work in the waiver process."
While the rest of UNLV's 2012 recruiting class — comprised of Katin Reinhardt, Savon Goodman, Demetris Morant and Daquan Cook — has been attending summer courses on campus for the last two weeks, Bennett has been at home in Toronto while awaiting a decision.
The other UNLV freshmen began classes for the third and final summer session on July 9, and the last day for late enrollment was July 10, according to UNLV enrollment services. The UNLV staff plans to explore options in terms of getting Bennett caught up to the point where he can complete the course work he would have had he been cleared by the NCAA in time to be enrolled with the rest of the freshman class.
That's because in order to take part in UNLV's upcoming foreign tour in Canada, which includes four exhibition games beginning on Aug. 16 and 10 days of practice leading up to it, incoming freshmen have to have completed college course work, per NCAA rules. UNLV begins practices in preparation for the Canada trip on Aug. 4.
If UNLV can't find a way to squeeze Bennett's work in before then, he will simply have to wait until the fall semester to enroll.
But, at the very least, Bennett will be in uniform when the Rebels open their regular season at home on Nov. 12 against Northern Arizona, which is a major relief to both fans and everyone within the men's basketball program. Other eligibility cases in recent years involving players who attended multiple high schools in more than one country have dragged well into the fall.
UNLV's most notable high school recruit since the Jerry Tarkanian Era, Bennett averaged 16.5 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior, leading the Pilots to their third ESPN Rise National High School Invitational crown in four years.
He'll likely be a candidate to start right away at power forward for the Rebels, who are coming off of a 26-9 season and an NCAA tournament appearance in Rice's first season at the helm.