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UNLV’s T.J. Otzelberger might soon know fate of current players

Updated April 7, 2019 - 8:24 pm

A commitment from junior college guard Jonah Antonio on Tuesday has been the only news regarding UNLV men’s basketball since T.J. Otzelberger was introduced as coach March 28.

But plenty has happened behind the scenes, and Otzelberger hinted that the seven UNLV players in the NCAA transfer portal might be close to deciding whether to stay with the Rebels or transfer. He said he has had regular conversations with them about staying.

“Each guy handles the transition differently,” Otzelberger said at Saturday’s spring football game at Peter Johann Memorial Field. “So as we move forward, I’m still learning and listening. I think we’re close to those guys making those commitments, but I’ve got to be in their corner and be there to talk through things. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, we’ll have more clarity as to who all is staying.”

Otzelberger has other considerations, such as recruiting and filling out his coaching staff, but he said the player meetings were his top priority.

Nick Blair, Cheickna Dembele, Mbacke Diong, Amauri Hardy, Shakur Juiston, Joel Ntambwe and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua are in the portal. Juiston, as a graduate transfer, would be eligible to play immediately at another school.

How many players return will determine how many scholarships he has to offer. The signing period begins April 17.

“You try to have a gauge as to who’s going to be there when the smoke clears and that balancing act of what pieces do we need to supplement our roster,” Otzelberger said. “You’ve got to recruit a lot of different guys, because you don’t know what you might need, but we’re going to keep chipping away at it until we’ve completed that process.”

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

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