UNLV’s Cheickna Dembele cleared to play by the NCAA
UNLV 6-foot-11-inch center Cheickna Dembele was declared eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse on Wednesday. He was waiting for his transcripts from Africa to be approved.
October 5, 2016 - 10:49 pm
UNLV freshman center Cheickna Dembele was declared eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse on Wednesday.
The African native was waiting for the NCAA to approve his transcripts.
“I’m very pleased the process has been completed,” coach Marvin Menzies said. “I never had any real concerns it wouldn’t be. Like in business, sometimes you have to go through the process, and this was one of those times. Now we need to get his health back up to speed, and I’m excited to get him back on the floor.”
Dembele is out for a few weeks with an injured right heel. The Rebels open their season Nov. 11 against South Alabama at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The 6-foot-11-inch player was a big get for Menzies and his staff. Dembele also was recruited by Michigan State, Syracuse and Missouri, among others.
Sophomore Jalen Poyser, one of three returning players, played both guard positions in August in the three exhibition games in Nassau, Bahamas.
“It was fun,” Poyser said. “It takes a lot of pressure off myself because the one (point guard) has a big role, and I need to score the ball a lot. I’m able to play both positions on and off the ball.”
In Nassau, Poyser showed his scoring ability by totaling 28 points in the final game.
At 6-4, he said he also felt comfortable playing both wing spots in addition to the point.
“I feel like I can play one through three because of the versatility,” Poyser said. “Whatever coach wants is what I’ll do. Whatever will help the team win is what is going to happen.”
Menzies and his staff are trying to figure out in preseason practices how playing time will be divided, and he said the decisions will become more obvious as the season nears.
“The starters are going to have to earn those spots,” Menzies said. “It’s go time, so we’ll figure out who’s going to start. Actually, they’re going to tell me who’s going to start based on their play.”
Menzies heads into his first season at UNLV after leading New Mexico State for nine years.
He noticed the difference between the programs during the recruiting process, even as hectic as it was given Menzies wasn’t hired until April 22.
“The system is in place, and we know what we’re going to do offensively and defensively,” Menzies said. “We will tweak some things. Depending on personnel and who’s in the game at certain times, you’ve got to play to your team’s strengths. I think that’s one of the big advantages of this job for me is that I can recruit guys to a system now, whereas at New Mexico State, I had to get the best players I could get and put in a system to fit some of their strengths.”
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