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UNLV starter suffers wrist injury, out for foreseeable future

Updated December 4, 2023 - 4:49 pm

UNLV returns to action for the first time in more than a week Wednesday, but it won’t be at full strength.

Fifth-year forward Jalen Hill will be sidelined for the foreseeable future with a wrist injury, coach Kevin Kruger said Monday. The former Oklahoma transfer wore a wrist brace and did not participate in practice.

“You’ve got a guy who played 100-plus games over the last four years,” Kruger said. “So you lose a lot of experience, but it’ll be a great opportunity for some guys to step up, get some playing time.”

UNLV will first be without Hill when it plays Dayton at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio. It’s the Rebels’ first game since defeating Akron 72-70 on Nov. 28.

Hill’s absence is a major loss for UNLV (3-3). The former Clark standout and Las Vegas native has started all six games this season. He leads the team in rebounding (6.8 rebounds per game) and ranks third in scoring (11.5 points per game). Hill is also second in blocks (four), steals (seven) and field-goal percentage (53.3 percent).

Kruger said the Rebels have several options to replace Hill against the Flyers (6-2). Sixth-year wing Luis Rodriguez played power forward most of last season and offers defensive flexibility. UNLV can also go larger and put sophomore forward Isaiah Cottrell back in the starting lineup next to forward Kalib Boone.

Junior forward Rob Whaley Jr. offers the most like-for-like replacement for Hill. The 6-foot-7-inch junior college transfer has averaged 8.2 minutes off the bench so far, scoring 2.2 points and grabbing 1.3 rebounds per game in limited action.

“We’ve got good enough players, good enough talent to figure it out,” Boone said.

Hill joins a growing list of injured Rebels. Junior wing Shane Nowell hasn’t played this season while recovering from a foot injury. Kruger said the Arizona transfer was inching closer to a return after the win against Akron and said Nowell was out of his protective boot.

Kruger ruled Nowell out for the Dayton game Monday, however.

The Rebels also continue to wait for a response from the NCAA regarding fifth-year wing Keylan Boone’s immediate-eligibility waiver.

Keylan Boone, the twin brother of Kalib Boone, required a waiver after UNLV became the third four-year institution he transferred to without graduating. He started his collegiate career at Oklahoma State with his brother before heading to Pacific for the 2022-23 season.

Kruger made a plea to the NCAA on Nov. 28, saying Boone “deserved an answer” and the waiver committee should “at least let the guy know what this year of college basketball is going to look like for him.”

Kalib Boone said his brother is finding ways to stay engaged. He’s optimistic Keylan Boone will get the waiver, and the two brothers will share the court again soon.

“I always tell him, ‘It’s a process. It’s a long journey, and you’ve got me here with you,’” Kalib Boone said. “‘Whatever you need, I got you.’”

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on X.

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