LAS VEGAS -- Marvin Menzies' first season at UNLV did not go as planned. He had to throw together a last-minute recruiting class, injuries mounted and so did the losses, leading to the worst season in Runnin' Rebels' history.
A top-20 recruiting class, headlined by five-star forward Brandon McCoy, should be just what Menzies needs to get UNLV headed back in the right direction.
"Looking forward to moving the needle a little forward to create more positive vibes in the city," Menzies said.
There weren't a lot in Menzies' first season after moving over from New Mexico State to replace Dave Rice.
Menzies inherited three scholarship players, got a late start in recruiting after being hired in April and the Rebels struggled because of it. UNLV opened with a home loss to South Alabama and kept losing, finishing 11-21 for the worst record in the program's 49-year history.
Menzies took steps toward avoiding another letdown season near The Strip by signing one of the nation's best recruiting classes and a pair of high-level junior college transfers.
The headliner of the recruiting class is McCoy, a 6-foot-11 McDonald's All-American from San Diego.
McCoy is a potential game-changer for the Rebels at both ends of the floor and could end up being one of the best freshmen in the country by season's end, not to mention a first-round NBA draft pick.
"I love the fact that he loves to play the game," Menzies said. "I love the fact that he loves to be coached. He looks you in the eye and he gives you responses that make you want to stay engaged and get this kid better."
A few more things to look for from UNLV:
THE RETURNEES: It's not all about the newcomers in Sin City. Guards Jovan Mooring and Kris Clyburn are back and could be the glue that holds the Rebels together. Mooring led the team with 12.6 points and 4.0 assists per game while finishing second with 36 steals. Clyburn averaged 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds, numbers that should go up this season with a year of experience under Menzies' system.
THE NEWCOMERS: Menzies beat out several schools to not only get McCoy, but multiple top-level recruits. Shakur Juiston, a 6-7 forward from New Jersey, averaged 17.3 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists while leading Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College to a national championship. Amauri Hardy is a highly-touted point guard from Detroit, Tervell Black a 6-7 forward from Cleveland, Jay Green a guard from Australia and 6-11 Cheikh Mbacke Dion is a potential defensive-game changer Senegal.
NO MORE MORGAN: The Rebels parted ways with forward Dwayne Morgan over the summer. He was suspended following his arrest on misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges and UNLV was one over its scholarship limit of 13. Morgan averaged 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in eight games last season before being shut down due to injuries. Morgan transferred to Southern Utah, where he reunites with former interim UNLV coach Todd Simon, now the head coach of the Thunderbirds.
THE SCHEDULE: UNLV opens at home against Florida A&M on Nov. 11 and will face either Ole Miss or Utah in the second game of the MGM Resorts Main Event at nearby T-Mobile Arean. The Rebels also have non-conference games against No. 3 Arizona at home and Illinois at MGM Grand Arena.
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