September 1, 2016 - 11:23 pm
Troy Baxter Jr. said he was looking for a more comfortable existence.
UNLV’s basketball team offered one.
Baxter, a consensus four-star forward from Tallahassee, Florida, committed to the Rebels on Thursday and is immediately eligible as a freshman.
The 6-foot-8-inch, 195-pound Baxter was ranked 90th in the ESPN Top 100 last season as a senior at Oldsmar Christian High School, where he averaged 17.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
His recruiting stock soared last year while playing travel ball for Team Breakdown.
Baxter also considered UCLA and Arizona State as potential landing spots after recently decommitting from South Florida and being released from his national letter of intent.
“I felt comfortable and relaxed (at South Florida) when first committing,” he said. “But as time went on, that changed. In the end, it just wasn’t the place for me.”
He was scheduled to visit Arizona State and UCLA in the coming days, but UNLV coach Marvin Menzies obviously made a big enough impression that those plans were canceled with Baxter’s commitment.
The Tampa Bay Times last week reported that “Baxter’s absence (from South Florida once school began) essentially coincides with reports in July indicating the USF men’s basketball program was being investigated by the NCAA for possible academic fraud. Assistant coach Oliver Antigua resigned the same day the reports surfaced.”
It remains unclear whether the investigation is related to Baxter’s decision to seek a release from his letter and reopen his recruitment.
“I was really impressed with Coach Menzies and his style and his staff and the vision for the future,” Baxter said. “He wants to bring championships back to UNLV.
“We are going to be a team with a lot of new faces, lots of freshmen and transfers, so everything might not click at once. But in time, I think there is a chance for us to be very good.”
Ed Graney can be reached at email@example.com or 702-383-4618. He can be a heard on “Seat and Ed” on Fox Sports 1340 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Twitter: @edgraney.