Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | 3:22 p.m.
The UNLV men's basketball program signed a big man on Tuesday, but Henry Buckley will not be pressing Darris Santee, Brice Massamba or Carlos Lopez for playing time in the 2009-10 season.
Buckley, a 6-foot-10, 200-pound senior at Wheatley High in Houston, signed a national letter of intent with the Rebels, but will spend next season at a prep school -- most likely The Patterson School in North Carolina.
"We've been following him throughout his high school career not really thinking about signing him to a letter because we knew he was headed to a prep school," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "The idea was kind of on the table, and it was something he felt great about, so we said 'Great, no problem at all.'"
Buckley's signing will not count toward the two open scholarships the Rebels have for next season. In terms of filling those, the UNLV staff is still awaiting word from Kansas transfer Quintrell Thomas, who is scheduled to announce his decision following the upcoming holiday weekend.
The staff is not believed to be pursuing anyone else at the moment for those spots in terms of unsigned high school seniors or transfers, which means those scholarships would roll over into the 2010 class.
As for Buckley, his year in prep school will be spent adding weight to his frame that can visibly support more than the 200 pounds he currently carries, plus developing his offensive game.
"He's very thin, and he's got a ton of upside," Kruger said. "He's a very good worker with a great attitude. He runs the floor and he's very lean. He's got good, broad shoulders, and will definitely add a lot of weight over the next couple of years.
"Right now, he's more of a shot-blocker, rebounder. Offensively, he's developing every day."
As a senior at Wheatley, Buckley averaged 6.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.9 blocks per game.
He also becomes yet another prospect to join the Rebels program from the Houston area under Kruger -- an area where UNLV has found quite a bit of talent.
"Starting with Mike Umeh, then Wink (Adams), it's been very good," Kruger said. "When you have players attend school and have success, it gives you a little leverage when you go back into those same areas and you can refer to a couple of guys from there who had great careers."