Stephen Zimmerman Jr. went hard after a loose basketball, grabbing it with his right hand and tossing it back into play.
It was a scary and encouraging moment for UNLV.
Zimmerman was back in a contact practice Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center, and he was willing to throw around his body to make plays.
Now the question is whether Zimmerman, who has been out since spraining his left knee Feb. 6 at Fresno State, will play at 5 p.m. Saturday when the Rebels host Wyoming.
Zimmerman passed his first major test, increasing the chances he will face the Cowboys.
“I think we’ll have a pretty good indication early on,” interim coach Todd Simon said before practice. “Obviously, how his body responds to it will be the telling tale in terms of how that adds up.”
The Rebels need Zimmerman. The 7-footer’s return would give them up to seven available scholarship players and a needed inside presence.
UNLV players not only have expanded minutes, but many also have played out of position.
“It would definitely be important,” point guard Jerome Seagears said of getting back Zimmerman. “Now we have to put (Derrick) Jones down at five (center). We have to put Jordan (Cornish) or maybe Ike (Nwamu) at the five. Instead of battling, they can save it on the offensive end.”
Contact Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65