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Rebels, Rice add ‘versatile’ transfer from UConn

Roscoe Smith started on Connecticut’s national championship team as a freshman. The 6-foot-8-inch forward plans to finish his career at UNLV, which is reloading with one of the nation’s top recruiting classes.

Smith announced Friday afternoon he will transfer to play for Rebels coach Dave Rice, who received Smith’s signed written offer of financial aid by fax.

“Roscoe is a versatile player, a terrific defender and rebounder,” Rice said. “He’s a guy who can score from a lot of different spots on the floor.”

Smith is one of five players to leave the Connecticut program after the Huskies were banned by the NCAA from participating in the 2013 postseason. It is possible Smith, who has two years of eligibility and a redshirt year remaining, could play for UNLV this season.

“I do not know the answer to that question,” Rice said. “We are going to submit a waiver to the NCAA on his behalf.”

A two-year starter at Connecticut, Smith averaged 4.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 18.7 minutes per game last season. He averaged 6.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 25.4 minutes as a freshman, when he helped the Huskies defeat Butler in the 2011 NCAA championship game.

The addition of Smith, who took a two-day visit to UNLV last week, provides another boost to a Rebels recruiting class that already was ranked in the nation’s top 15.

Headlining the seven newcomers is five-star prospect Anthony Bennett, a 6-8 forward from Findlay Prep. Bennett, ranked by ESPN.com and Rivals.com as the nation’s No. 7 prospect in the class of 2012, is the second McDonald’s All-American to join the Rebels since January. The first was 6-9 Khem Birch, a transfer from Pittsburgh who is expected to become eligible in December.

Rice signed three high school players in the fall, including guard Katin Reinhardt of Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei High. Reinhardt is the nation’s 38th-ranked recruit by Rivals.com.

Demetris Morant, a 6-9 forward from Bishop Gorman High, and 6-1 point guard Daquan Cook from St. Frances High in Baltimore also signed early. Southern California transfer Bryce Jones, who redshirted last season, is another newcomer.

Smith, who attended Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, was ranked the nation’s
No. 37 recruit by Rivals.com in 2010. He visited Duke and Georgetown before signing with Connecticut.

UNLV lost four graduated seniors from a 26-9 team, and reserve guards Karam Mashour and Reggie Smith transferred after the season. Rice still has one available scholarship.

“I do think style of play is a big deal,” Rice said of his ability to attract high-profile recruits. “I did feel like we showed glimpses last season of what we wanted to look like.

“These guys are aware we have a significant amount of depth, and they understand how we are going to play, even more up-tempo and more full-court defense, so there’s an opportunity to play more guys and an opportunity for these guys to make a major impact on our team.”

The Rebels return two starters, senior guard Anthony Marshall and junior forward Mike Moser, in addition to experienced reserves Justin Hawkins, Carlos Lopez and Quintrell Thomas.

UNLV opens the regular season on Nov. 12 against Northern Arizona at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907.

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