Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009 | 2:30 a.m.
Ever since entering the public eye midway through his Mojave High career, Anthony Marshall has made headlines for all of the right reasons.
He rose up the recruiting ranks, and the UNLV freshman ended his senior season as the No. 66 prospect in the 2009 class, according to Rivals.com.
He at one point carried a 4.0 grade-point average but still graduated with a not-too-shabby 3.6, and he wants to pursue a business degree.
He relishes the idea of being a role model for his four younger siblings, ranging from ages 3 to 14, and has for quite some time.
Now on a bigger stage this season with the Rebels, the 6-foot-3 guard has no plans of changing.
"Everything is going pretty good — just weight-lifting, going to class, playing with the guys later on, getting used to the college life, pretty much," he said. "I came here for a reason. That was to get an education and hopefully take my game to the next level. That's my focus."
Of course, eyes which will focus on Marshall a little more than on any other incoming Rebels freshman.
Because he's the big-name recruit right from the Rebels' backyard who Lon Kruger and his staff kept right there — the biggest local get to date for the current regime.
"I guess you could say that," he said. "Being from here, a lot of people are going to know me and keep tabs on what I'm doing.
"As far as pressure, I feel none."
It was roughly a year ago at the adidas Super 64 when Marshall blew up on the radars of several college coaches.
Playing alongside fellow top-flight local prospect Elijah Johnson, Marshall stole the show with his nonstop motor, defensive tenacity and knack for scoring the ball from everywhere on the floor.
After that showing in his hometown, phone calls began coming more regularly from elite programs, such as UCLA and Arizona, just to name a couple. But not too much later, Marshall was off the market, opting to join the Rebels.
Kruger said UNLV began seriously recruiting Marshall as a sophomore and knew early on that he was a local talent worth pursuing for several reasons.
"His mom was always very strong," Kruger said. "Pleasing his mom to Anthony was always important.
"Anthony's very well-grounded. He's been real solid all his life. He's been a role model. That's one of the things he mentioned to us early on."
In a town that is synonymous with gambling, Marshall was as safe a bet as the Rebels could find when the whole package was taken into consideration.
This came six months after the Rebels had to part ways with another local product they kept at home, former Gorman standout Marcus Lawrence.
Lawrence was dismissed from the program in February after a DUI charge became the capper in a series of disciplinary issues early in his Rebels career. He's since had issues after transferring to Idaho.
Recruiting to Las Vegas takes added care, and with being a locally-bred talent comes some pitfalls. Marshall appears to be the type of player and person the UNLV staff will be able to showcase when attempting to recruit Las Vegas in coming seasons, especially with the wealth of talent currently making its way through the local prep ranks.
Anthony Brown knows just what it's like to sidestep those potholes as a local product recruited to compete at UNLV.
After starring on the gridiron at Chapparal, he went on to letter for four seasons as a Rebel, from 1994-98.
Brown, who now coaches the Las Vegas Prospects on the summer hoops circuit, had both Lawrence and Marshall come through his program.
"I remember being 18 years old, getting to do some things I never got to do before," Brown said. "I'm from Las Vegas. I'm not starstruck. I don't need to be on the Strip. There are exceptions to every rule. But I would say the rule is most Vegas kids don't get caught up in that. I know Lawrence had some difficulties, but that's the exception."
Marshall takes the same approach as Brown did 15 years ago.
"I guess if you're not from Vegas, the bright lights and excitement, it can get to you," he said. "I see it all the time. I'm adapted to it. It doesn't get me out of focus. I'm always focused.
"I've never really been in trouble. I'm not worried about that part."
The payoff has been positive so far, even though Marshall has yet to suit up for a game as a Rebel.
He said veteran guards such as Tre'Von Willis and Oscar Bellfield have done their best to challenge him physically, knocking him around some in pickup games to try to prepare him for college ball.
Marshall reportedly has handled it well. He's currently weighing in at a thick-yet-muscular 195 pounds, which is up from the 187 he weighed at the conclusion of his Mojave career.
"Teammates all have very positive things to say, and that's not a huge surprise to us," Kruger said. "He's not a youngster that's got to fill out tremendously over the next few years. His strength is good, and he has good athletic ability."
The signs point to Marshall making a bid for early playing time, as he fits the mold with UNLV's current set of guards, who bank on their versatility.
"As far as playing time, that's not up to me, that's up to the coaches," he said. "But I feel like if I go out and do what I'm supposed to do, work hard, not take plays off and bust my butt like I know I can do, I'll play. As far as me fitting in with the guys, we're all the same. We're combo guards. We're all interchangeable, so I feel like I fit in well with these guys."
But playing right away won't tell Marshall whether he's a success or not as a Rebel.
He knows that if he stays on the same path both on and off the court which got him here, what he wants will come.
Everything Marshall has done so far suggests that's just what will happen, even with the pressure that can come with the special hometown tag attached.
"There's pressure there, but honestly, I don't feel any pressure," he said. "As a basketball player, and being a major name, you deal with pressure a lot. I just feel that if I go out there and do what I was taught to do or what I came here to learn to do, I'll produce just fine and everything will be OK.