Interim coach Simon, aide work to bolster UNLV’s recruiting class

Todd Simon and Ryan Miller might not have jobs in a couple of weeks, but they’re working as if they are in it for the long term at UNLV.

They are continuing to recruit hard, with Simon convincing 7-foot five-star recruit Thon Maker of the Athlete Institute Basketball Academy in Toronto to take an official visit this weekend. Miller caught up in person with 6-2 guard Jaylen Fisher, who has signed with the Rebels. Miller and Fisher each tweeted a photo of their visit.

Maybe Simon and Miller believe they have a good chance to be part of the next coach’s staff. Or maybe it’s in their nature to be diligent and loyal to their employer, even if there is uncertainty about their futures.

Simon took over as interim coach after Dave Rice was fired Jan. 10, and Miller is an assistant who has been a key player to the Rebels’ recruiting efforts.

As for recruiting, getting Maker to agree to visit came a day after the Rebels lost three-star guard Christian Vital from what now is a three-person recruiting class. Vital reopened his recruiting because of the uncertainty of the coaching situation.

The other three members are holding steady, for now at least.

Carlos Johnson, a 6-4 forward at Findlay Prep, said he was sticking with UNLV no matter who the Rebels hire as coach.

“I’m in all the way,” Johnson said. “I feel as a basketball player, ballplayers need to do what ballplayers do no matter who the coach is. You still have to go out there and play. Me personally with my skill set, I set my mind to what I need to do regardless.”

Johnson said UNLV’s rich basketball tradition was a big part of his attraction to the Rebels.

Attempts to reach the other two members of the class, Fisher and 6-9 forward Justin Jackson, were unsuccessful. But the fact Fisher, who attends Bolton High School in Memphis, Tennessee, tweeted that photo with Miller has to be taken as a positive sign for the Rebels.

Jackson, a student at The Hill Academy near Toronto, continues to also list himself as committed to the Rebels.

The identity of the next coach will have the biggest impact on how well UNLV holds together its class, but the news of Maker’s visit doesn’t hurt in that effort. Maker, listed as the nation’s No. 10 prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings, also will reportedly visit Arizona State on April 18 and Notre Dame on April 25, so UNLV will have its coach in place well before then. Maker also has visited Kansas.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65

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