Reports of Deville Smith’s departure were not exaggerated. Smith is not returning to the UNLV basketball team for his senior season, it was confirmed Thursday after more than a week of speculation.
“Deville has informed me that he has decided to leave the program,” coach Dave Rice said. “He’s weighing his options, and we plan to meet next week.”
When reached by phone, Smith declined to comment. His options include transferring to another school or attempting to play professionally.
Smith appeared in 32 of 33 games and started 18 times at point guard as a junior. He was the team’s No. 5 scorer with an average of 9.7 points and ranked second in assists (87) and 3-pointers made (45).
He scored a season-high 22 points and had seven assists in the Rebels’ 91-90 overtime loss at Boise State on Feb. 22. A week earlier, he was pulled from the starting lineup at Utah State after reporting late to the team bus.
Smith started his career at Mississippi State before playing at Southwest Mississippi Community College as a sophomore.
Rice said Smith, who is from Jackson, Miss., is out of town but plans to return to campus next week to discuss his next move. By subtracting Smith, UNLV is at the NCAA scholarship limit of 13.
Smith is the fifth player to leave the Rebels since the end of the season, not including graduating seniors Kevin Olekaibe and Carlos Lopez-Sosa.
Bryce Dejean-Jones, UNLV’s leading scorer, transferred to Iowa State for his senior season, and reserve sophomore forward Demetris Morant transferred to Florida Gulf Coast. Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith bypassed their senior seasons to declare for the NBA Draft.
The Rebels have lost their top five scorers from last season. Rice signed eight newcomers, including senior point guard transfers Cody Doolin (University of San Francisco) and Jerome Seagears (Rutgers) and junior forward Ben Carter, an Oregon transfer.
Five freshmen — Rashad Vaughn, Dwayne Morgan, Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw and Jordan Cornish — form a UNLV recruiting class that is ranked No. 4 in college basketball, according to Rivals.com.
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.