UNLV transfers Nick Blair, Noah Robotham return to hometown team

Updated October 16, 2017 - 7:31 pm

The question was simple, the answer even simpler.

What was it about Nick Blair and Noah Robotham that prompted UNLV coach Marvin Menzies to recruit them?

“Character,” Menzies said.

Menzies noted Blair and Robotham could play a little basketball, too, certainly the key consideration in bringing in the Bishop Gorman High graduates.

“They were both guys that I think will have an opportunity to push for minutes at some point after this year,” Menzies said.

“Nick has missed a lot of practice with shin splints, so I haven’t had as much of a chance to evaluate him, but I know he’s a good athlete and a solid kid. Noah, I’ve had a chance to evaluate a little bit more as he’s been able to practice full time. He’s a good, solid, heady, mature point guard that obviously brings stability and leadership. He can shoot the ball, he’s a capable finisher, and he’s also a guy that understands what it is to be a true point guard.”

Both players are walk-ons who will sit out this season under NCAA transfer rules — Blair from Idaho and Robotham from Akron. UNLV opens its season Nov. 11 against Florida A&M at the Thomas &Mack Center.

This isn’t the first time they’ve been teammates. At Gorman, Blair averaged 10.1 points and 5.2 rebounds as a senior in the 2014-15 season. Robotham averaged 16.0 points and 7.1 assists as a senior in 2013-14 en route to becoming the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year.

“I did like UNLV a lot, but they weren’t recruiting me,” Robotham said. “It’s the city school, and I grew up watching them play, so it’s always a university that’s been close to my heart. I used to go to UNLV games like I had family on the team.”

Blair, a 6-foot-5-inch forward, will have two years of eligibility. He averaged 8.4 minutes and 2.8 points over his two seasons at Idaho before deciding to look elsewhere for what he hoped would “be a better fit for me as a person.”

“I knew UNLV was in the process where they needed some help in getting the program back to where people wanted it to be and where it can be,” Blair said. “So being from Vegas, that definitely played a huge role and could be a school for me to go play at.”

Robotham, a 6-foot-1-inch point guard, will have one season of eligibility. He was a three-year starter at Akron, and last season averaged 8.8 points and 3.0 assists while making 39 percent of his 3-point shots.

When Zips coach Keith Dambrot left for Duquesne after the season, Robotham decided on a fresh start, too.

“I easily could’ve stayed at Akron,” Robotham said. “The least amount of minutes I ever played was 30 minutes there, and I’m sure I would’ve done that my senior year. Coach (John) Groce, who came from Illinois, told me a lot of great things that was enough for me to stay, but I wanted a different challenge out of my life, and I thought that coming home would provide the biggest challenge.

“I’ve always wanted to prove myself, but just (to) me. I’ve worked so hard at this that I wanted the most out of my basketball career, not that I wanted to prove to people that I should’ve come here out of high school.”

Blair and Robotham will bide their time, but this isn’t a wasted season. Each player will not only attempt to make a case for playing time in 2018-19, but will try to contribute in other ways this season.

“We like to get up and down, a lot of quick offense before you try to set up (defensively),” Blair said. “I think that’s definitely my style of play. That was what I was more keen on when I was playing in high school.

“That’s something I definitely find useful not just for me, but everyone else on the team.”

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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