REBELS BASKETBALL:

Notebook: Gordon pleasantly surprised during visit to UNLV

Former UCLA forward enjoys campus, atmosphere in search for new hoops home

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Leila Navidi

Former UCLA forward Drew Gordon attends the basketball game between UNLV and South Carolina Upstate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV in Las Vegas on Saturday, December 19, 2009. UNLV is one school the 6-foot-8 former Bruin is considering after leaving Ben Howland’s program on Dec. 1.

USC Upstate vs UNLV

Kendall Wallace and Oscar Bellfield led the Rebels with 16 points each as UNLV cruised to an 88-58 victory over South Carolina Upstate on Saturday night.

UNLV vs. South Carolina Upstate

UNLV guard Steve Jones charges toward the basket with South Carolina Upstate's Caleb Palkert on his tail during Saturday's game at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

SC UPSTATE POSTGAME: Maturity prevails for UNLV

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Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer discuss UNLV's 88-58 victory over South Carolina Upstate on Saturday night, as the Rebels showed solid maturity in what could have been a sloppy look-ahead effort 12 hours before taking off for Hawaii.

During his quick stop at UNLV in what has been a whirlwind recruiting tour, Drew Gordon expected to see lots of rocks and cacti when he set foot on campus Saturday.

"The campus was a lot better than I expected," Gordon said, citing the greenery and secluded feel just down the road from the noise of the Strip.

As for his trip to the Thomas & Mack Center to watch UNLV down South Carolina Upstate, 88-58?

"It's definitely a legit facility," he said. "Probably one of the best college gyms I've seen in a long time."

The 6-foot-8 sophomore power forward out of San Jose, Calif., left the UCLA program in early December after not quite seeing eye-to-eye with coach Ben Howland.

When he left, Gordon was averaging 11.2 points and a team-best 5.3 rebounds per game for the Bruins. Now, the No. 45 prospect in Rivals.com's rankings from the class of 2008 is looking for a new home.

After taking in Notre Dame and New Mexico on recent trips, Gordon liked what he saw from his seat in section 107 on Saturday night at the Mack.

"UCLA wasn't the style of play I wanted to fit in to," he said. "I'm more of an up-and-down player, and UNLV has that. Lon Kruger's a good coach."

Gordon made the visit with his mother, Shelly, and his only other planned trip will be to San Diego State on Dec. 29, when the Aztecs take on UC-Riverside. His father, Ed, lettered at SDSU from 1980-83.

He said a decision should come some time just after New Year's, as he hopes to enroll at his next school in time for the spring semester. That would make him eligible as a sophomore next season at the conclusion of the fall semester.

Gordon said he's not leaning in any certain direction right now, and considers himself wide open.

He potentially could be the next in a list of transfers who have found a nice second home at UNLV, joining the likes of current Rebels Tre'Von Willis (Memphis), Derrick Jasper (Kentucky), Steve Jones (Arizona State), Quintrell Thomas (Kansas) and Chace Stanback (UCLA).

Stanback and Gordon were never teammates at UCLA, but are good friends, and the two sat down for dinner following Saturday night's victory.

"It's comforting," Gordon said of Stanback's presence at UNLV. "I'm in the same situation he was. If he can do it, I can do it."

Livengood says hello

New UNLV Athletic Director Jim Livengood took a moment to address the Thomas & Mack crowd Saturday night at halftime, taking a brief break from his search for a new football coach.

He made an appearance Thursday after he was hired, walking the arena a bit with university President Neal Smatresk and shaking some hands.

A source close to the situation told the Sun on Friday that UNLV's first interview for the vacant football position will take place today, when Montana's Bobby Hauck is in town. Former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione will be on campus on Monday to interview.

Stanback stays hot

Speaking of the 6-foot-8 Stanback, he continues to be UNLV's hottest offensive producer as the team heads off to the islands.

His 10 points marked the fourth consecutive game in which he's scored in double figures.

In that stretch, he's 21-of-42 from the floor.

Inside the numbers

Some more statistical notables from Saturday night ...

• The four 3-pointers from sophomore guard Oscar Bellfield marked a season high, while junior guard Kendall Wallace's four connections from deep tied his top performance for the 2009-10 campaign.

• UNLV's seven turnovers tied a season low, with the other occurrence coming Nov. 18 against UNR.

• Ten different UNLV players were on the floor for at least 11 minutes, while walk-ons Tyler Norman (five minutes), Todd Hanni (five) and Mychal Martinez (three) each notched season highs in the category.

• UNLV's hottest shooter of late is, without question, junior forward Matt Shaw. In the Rebels' three games this week is 13-of-19 from the floor and 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Meanwhile, the team's freshman guards — Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins — are in a combined shooting slump, as they've paired to go 6-of-31 in that same stretch.

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Previous Discussion: 29 comments so far…

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  1. Drew, you'd be a great fit here down low and with our up-tempo style....hopefully you left town with a good feel for the tight-knit family-style team Coach Kruger has put together. You could help take us to the next level.

  2. That would be so nice!! If Drew wants to win and be a part of something great the next few years he signs with the Rebels. Look at this teams future comapred to all the other schools he has visited and tell me the Rebels aren't poised to make huge NCAA tourney run. This team would be loaded at the forward position with Stanback, QT, Shaw, & Drew.

  3. Any word on Buckley yet? That is an important piece to this story. He leaves us with only one scholarship between Polee, Gordon, and Joseph. Without Buckley 2 of the 3 would be great!

  4. Buckley is just a verbal commitment. If Polee and Drew committed, I bet they drop Buckley

  5. The Prep school Buckley was going to attend closed so I cant even find where he is playing?

  6. From what I've been reading, Gordon is a me-first player who was openly disrespectful toward his coaches and teammates. I'd hate to see Cory Joseph or Dwayne Polee not get a shot with the Rebs because we take on another Emmanuel Adeife. We all know that Coach will not tolerate these kind of shenanigans and would show him the door if he became a problem -- just as Howland did at UCLA.

  7. I am kind of with you sf_reb. I am not sure we need another transfer. Especially one with Gordon's rep. I know he can play but he seems to be a bit of a malcontent. I think we might be best served if we only have one more scholarship going after Joseph or Polee. Besides we will have to wait until 2nd semester of '10-'11 to see him. Tough to add a player midway. Chemistry can be fickle. Although I must admit seeing him in a Lobo or Aztec uniform does not appeal to me either.

  8. He didnt like the slow-down offense at UCLA. That may have started the other stuff.. hopefully.

    Kruger gives second chances and if Gordon really wants to be a team player and tells Kruger that, he will give him a shot. And IMO, he is definately worth a shot.

  9. Gordon is already a better player then Buckley probably ever will be. Buckley will be a work in progress for who knows how long, where Gordon the moment he steps on the hardwood is going to make an impact in games offensively & rebounding. I take Gordon over Buckley 10 out of 10 times, I even take Gordon over Polee for that matter IMO.

  10. Lenny, yes the beginning of the Spring Semester marks the beginning of his redshirt year so he can practice with the team just as QT is doing now.

  11. haha wow that is kind of funny how the "practice big men" would be better than the ones suiting up!

  12. Despite the attitude problem I think we should take a chance on the kid, just because of the rebounding ability. One of the major weaknesses of this group is getting boards; we need someone who will get in there and mix it up...however...I don't agree we should take him over Polee. The athleticism of Polee is just phenomenal, as in, the kid does things with his body that are just beyond belief. I take Polee over Gordon in a heartbeat. Also, we might not get either one so right now it's all just speculative anyway. Good game last night, I still think we need to tighten up defensively. After all that was South Carolina Upstate...

  13. i've also read that gordon tends to have an attitude problem. i'm sure he thinks he'll spend one year somewhere as a D1 superstar then be a top 10 pick.

  14. Ryan, can we get some information on the scholarship situation and how it could play out?

  15. Guess who else was pegged with an "attitude problem" before transferring to UNLV. Chace Stanback. The media killed Stanback for not seeing eye-to-eye with Howland, being a selfish shoot first player, and they said Chace was unwilling to play defense.

    Where are those criticisms now?

    I am just saying, I trust Kruger to make the right choice on this kid.

    BTW, I second the Gordon over Polee statment. Polee may be more athletic but I don't think he is much of a rebounder...something we desperatly need.

  16. @ Jerry

    We have two left for next seaon. Buckley signed his letter of intent but went to some Sports Academy. His first choice for prep school went under. Because he went to prep school he would have to resign his letter of intent. I still think he wants to come here because he is still wearing a UNLV t-shirt in his facebook profile picture.

    IMO, if Buckley comes here, he will redshirt next season.

    Once CJ signs somewhere else...I hope he doesn't, but I am a realist...we still have one/two open. Both huge options are Polee and Gordon. I know Polee had a good time here, it didn't hurt that we beat Lousiville and the crowd was amazing. Gordon is a toss up. In a perfect world we get Gordon and NM gets Okonji and Hamga. I would laugh for weeks on end.

    IMO opinion we need guards. After next season Tre and Jasper are gone. We will be thin at the position and we will need to reload for 2011. That year we will still have Q, Lopez, Buckley (maybe), and Massamba.

  17. @reagan21,

    ESPN says that Buckley is a verbal so he actually hasn't signed yet. I agree with you on CJ I don't see him in a rebel jersey at all, Nova & UCONN are a lot closer to Toronto for his family to travel to games IMO. UNLV's best bet is Gordon & Polee for the final 2 schollies IMO. Polee might be the next human highlight film in the open court but can he create his own shot and shoot a jumper? If you are going to be anything at this level you have to be able to create off the dribble and knock down a mid-range jumper. Gordon is a low post scorer who will contribute right away, how can you pass that by if he wants to come? I'm pretty sure Kruger has told Buckley, Polee, CJ, & Gordon I have 2 schollies left and they are on a first come first serve basis...

  18. It would be a shame if the "bad attitude" rumors turned out to be true. However, I'm inclined to think that it's negative spin coming out of UCLA's press camp. It's no secret the Pac-10 is shifting as a whole toward a slower, more deliberate style of play. Right now, I'm convinced the Mountain West is a better conference. As such, Gordon is looking at those schools.

    Also, Howland's held a grudge against Lon and Co. since the Stanback transfer. It would really rankle him if we "stole" a second UCLA recruit.

    There's no reason why we shouldn't keep our recruiting options open at this point.

  19. @ BetonBlack
    Then Buckley did a hell of a photoshop job with these pictures of his signing his LOI.

    http://www.facebook.com/#/album.php?aid=...

    1 - ESPN is wrong all the time

    2- He did sign, but by attending a prep school his letters are essentially void until he resigns with UNLV.

  20. I wanted to also comment on NSRF but I hit post on accident.

    @Nevada Southern...
    We'll just call this payback from the O'Bannon Tarver transfers. Not to mention Charles O'Bannon who would have followed his brother to UNLV.

  21. @Reagan,

    I couldn't agree more. Payback's a b*tch...

  22. I don't care how we get ballers here as long as they come, via transfer or the regular recruiting trail. Maybe we should play the Bruins in the next couple of years. Wouldn't that be poetic justice to blow their doors off?

    @ reagan - Until it's final, nothings final, Buckley hasn't resigned yet LOL!! I would rather see Gordon & either CJ or Polee just so we don't have to end up playing against Gordon and watch him drop (20 & 10) on UNLV every time they play.

  23. @ bet

    I know he hasn'r resigned yet...I said that at least two times prior. However, he did sign a LOI and coaches like Kruger don't make it a habit of pulling "scholarships" from players...even if it is a fictional scholarship. It looks bad and coaches would use it against Kruger.

  24. @reagan,

    the thing about Kruger not pulling schollies from kids is what I have said all along..but once again nothing is official so we'll see. Best case scenario=Polee/Gordon & CJ

  25. The Mountain West is already better than the Pac 10 this year. New Mexico and BYU are playing well and deserve top 25 rankings. SDSU is not far behind. New Mexico has an outstanding class coming in next year to complement MacDonald. Rebels will need two of either Polee, CJ, or Gordon just to keep up. Mountain West Conference might not be able to be a kept secret anymore, even with no ESPN coverage.

  26. Putting all the nice guy talk aside this is a multi million dollar business and should be treated this way when dealing with recruits. I know Kruger is a nice guy but he gets this aspect of college basketball as well. I promise you he isn't tripping over any of these players. It is 1st come 1st serve with these schollies, if you want to be here then sign the LOI or you may lose your spot and that is the way schollies have always been handled at every university. We saw that happen last year between Anthony marshall & Elijah Johnson, Marshall swooped in and took that last schollie even though Elijah had interest in UNLV. Nothing is guaranteed until you sign on the dotted line, life is about opportunites some you seize and some you miss.

  27. if we miss out on these 3, Jordin Mayes is a guy we could pick up. He is Dwayne Polee's teammate at Westchester. A year ago, he wasn't on any scouts' radar. Now, several teams are contacting him.

  28. drew gordon would be sick here. if not here, i hope he picks notre dame just so UNM or SDSU doesnt get him lol.

    and gordon > polee. Polee could end up being a glorified Deshawn Mitchell.

    I think we get one of either Polee or Gordon, and then if CJ wants to come here Kruger will drop Buckley, but I don't know that CJ will really come here. And after seeing how much Buckley wants to be here I would feel bad dropping him, but it would have to be done if CJ wanted to play for us.