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Versatile Jovan Mooring ready to help at both of UNLV’s guard spots

UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies cautioned against getting too caught up on who plays which position.

It’s more like which positions.

He estimated eight or nine players are capable of playing multiple positions, and one is 6-foot-2-inch junior Jovan Mooring, who will be counted on to play point and shooting guard.

“We have multiple guys that can play point guard, and we have multiple guys that can play shooting guard,” Mooring said. “We’re very versatile at every position.”

Mooring most likely will come off the bench when the Rebels play Dakota Wesleyan in an exhibition at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Thomas & Mack Center. But Menzies pointed out the starting lineup at the beginning of the season, when the Rebels open at home against South Alabama on Nov. 11, could be considerably different from the one at the end.

UNLV signed Mooring out of South Suburban College near Chicago. He was the junior college Division II Player of the Year after averaging 26.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.0 steals.

“He’s got flavor,” Menzies said. “He’s got confidence. He plays with a little chip on his shoulder.”

Mooring’s effort to make an immediate impact at UNLV took a hit when he broke the ring finger on his left hand during an exhibition in August in the Bahamas. He returned to practices about a week ago.

“It definitely set me back, but physically I think I’ve got a chance to get ready to play,” Mooring said. “It turned out to be a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. I got a chance to work on my body more. I got a chance to learn the game, learn to play the point guard spot more.”

It’s a crowded battle at point guard, with 6-4 sophomore Jalen Poyser the likely starter against Dakota Wesleyan. Poyser ran the point in Tuesday’s scrimmage.

Poyser and Mooring could wind up sharing both guard positions.

“You’ve got to look at Jovan’s ability to score off the ball, and you’ve got to look at Jalen’s ability to do that,” Menzies said. “People in general talk about, ‘Who’s the point guard? Who’s the point guard?’ Well, what’s my system? How do we use the point guard?”

Mooring sees himself in the aggressive mode of Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who likes to drive to the basket, especially late in games. But Mooring said he was asked to be more of a facilitator as a point guard at UNLV.

“I’ve played a lot, but it hasn’t been this type of point guard play like getting guys to spots,” Mooring said. “Growing up, it’s been me bringing the ball up and being a good ball-handler. It wasn’t actually running the team, but now I get a chance to run the team and put guys in spots.”

Who ultimately becomes the starting point guard and how the rotation will be set are still to be decided, and Menzies said it was a crowded field.

“I will narrow it down,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of exhibition games to get through. We’ll have it streamlined, I think, by the first game of here’s how we’re starting the season.”

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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