Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009 | 2:30 a.m.
The sophomore transfer from UCLA scored 10 points, showed off his smooth inside-outside game and his tenacity on the glass last October during the program's annual FirstLook event, leaving those in attendance wanting more from the lanky, 6-foot-8 wing.
After sitting out for a year per NCAA transfer rules, chances are they'll now be getting more than they ever bargained for. And when fans show up for FirstLook 2009 next Friday at 9 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center, Stanback will be a focal point, rather than an extra.
UNLV graduated three of its top four scorers and rebounders following a somewhat disappointing 21-11 campaign last season. Stanback will be relied upon heavily to fill in both stat columns.
"(Power forwards) in what we do are really just big wings," Rebels coach Lon Kruger said. "It's not like he's a low-post banger. He's a skilled perimeter guy who can do a lot of good things on the floor.
"If you want to put a number to him, it doesn't really means he's an inside guy."
The term "four" or "power forward" will in fact be just a title for Stanback, whose versatility rivals that of anyone who has donned a UNLV uniform in recent years.
At 6-foot-8 and more defined than a year ago, yet still thin, Stanback hardly looks powerful. But he showed during practices last season as a member of the scout team that he's willing to mix it up inside with anyone.
"I love to rebound," he said. "I feel like I can be a great asset on the rebounding side. I feel like I can post up and everything like that, then also play on the perimeter.
"I really didn't see myself playing the four-spot, but now I see that most of our offense revolves around the four-man. That's pretty good for me, but that's also a lot of responsibility, which I'm ready to take on."
At UCLA, he got lost in the mix, for the most part.
Rated as the nation's No. 69 prospect in the 2007 class, he was used sparingly in 25 games on a Final Four team.
Now, Kruger's offense is one in which a versatile power forward can thrive in with ease.
"I've never been a get-after-it type of player, or just an all-out, aggressive type," he said. "I think I've developed in that area a lot, playing for coach Kruger and having all the coaches ride me at every practice."
Stanback said he was surprised by the attention to his development he received last season in practices, as scout team members are typically there just to simulate what an upcoming opponent may do.
"It was real tough," he said. "I've never sat out a whole year from basketball since I was 6 years old. That was a tough thing for me to do. With the season we had last year, I always felt like I could go out there and give them some kind of a boost, help them out."
Instead, knowing how crucial he'd be to the program's future, Stanback was toughened up regularly, which is something needed to play power forward in the Kruger system.
Typically, in that particular offense, the four is the guy who trails behind the point guard down the floor and sets up atop the key, takes a swing pass and then, from there, either creates on his own or sets himself up for an easier look down low.
For all the buckets he might score inside of 10 feet, he'll surprise some opponents with his ability to then step out and display a feathery 3-point touch.
The biggest question with Stanback is just how long it will take for him to find his rhythm early on.
With new faces seemingly everywhere on the floor for the Rebels, be it transfers, freshmen or redshirts coming off of injuries, this summer was key for the team to get a jump start on coming together, mostly via pickup ball.
Stanback, however, was back in Los Angeles, working out on his own.
The reason? He wasn't on scholarship until the start of the fall semester, which helped rule out summer classes at UNLV.
That doesn't mean he wasn't in a classroom.
Stanback's blackboard was the empty gym at Fairfax High, where he led the Lions to a 2007 state title by averaging 25.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game.
He'd work on individual skills, and five times a week would stay on the floor following weights and flexibility and balance exercises long enough to see 500 shots hit the bottom of the net before heading home.
"I think he's a much stronger, smarter player," said Fairfax High coach Harvey Kitani, who was the last coach to have Stanback on the floor for major minutes. "Honestly, I don't (think he'll show any rust), and I'll tell you why. He's worked so hard, and during his one-year absence from actually playing, I think if there's anything, it might just be some excitement. But I think he's gonna have a tremendous year."
Added Stanback: "You lose that chemistry with the players, not being here and seeing them every day. But I feel like I've gotten better individually."
And if he can live up to the hype and potential, which leads many to believe that Stanback could be the Rebels' most reliable scorer, he'll have no trouble fitting in.
There would certainly be no begging for more.
"He's got the knack to get the ball in the hole," Kruger said. "He's the guy who's done that all his life. That's not something everyone does."