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Pennsylvania prep center Cheickna Dembele commits to UNLV

UNLV has its big man, and Cheickna Dembele’s high school basketball coach said the Rebels are getting a good one.

Dembele, a 6-foot 11-inch center, committed Saturday to play for UNLV.

He was being recruited by Michigan State and Syracuse, among others, and had a trip planned to Missouri.

Dembele played last season at Scotland (Pennsylvania) Performance Institute after moving to the U.S. last year from Mali. He was not available for comment.

“His upside is scary how good he can be,” SPI coach Jareem Dowling said. “He came here as a good Wal-Mart home-cooked meal, and all you have to do is follow the directions. Then we added some sides. Now he’s a four-course meal, and in three months, he will be dessert, too. He’s special off the court. He’s special on the court as well.”

Statistics were not available on the school website, but Dowling said Dembele was the team’s best free-throw shooter at 78 percent who is accurate from about 17 feet, can shoot 3-pointers and is a strong rebounder.

Dembele is the second recruit for new UNLV coach Marvin Menzies. The Rebels signed 6-6 guard Kris Clyburn on Tuesday. Clyburn, who played at Ranger (Texas) College, will have three years of eligibility.

UNLV has a depleted roster and will need both players to make strong immediate impacts, and Dowling said the Rebels could count on that with Dembele.

“All the schools were recruiting him to play 15 to 20 minutes as a freshman,” Dowling said. “If he has a good summer (of conditioning), it will probably be more. He will be productive.”

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

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