Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 | 2:30 p.m.
As of Saturday afternoon UNLV's coaching staff had yet to contact him, but expect Lon Kruger & Co. to turn their attention upon returning from Louisville toward point guard Matt Carlino.
Carlino, a Scottsdale, Ariz., native who played his final year of high school in Bloomington, Ind., announced on Friday afternoon that he would be transferring from UCLA at the end of the academic quarter.
Just 24 hours later, he was wasting no time in finding a new spot, as a source told the Sun on Saturday afternoon that Carlino wants to make a decision in the next week or two and be at his new school in time for the spring semester.
He took an immediate trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, to watch BYU take on Arizona on Saturday evening, and will spend Sunday finishing a visit with the Cougars' staff before heading back to the his family's Phoenix area home. The source also said that his only other visit currently scheduled is next weekend at Butler.
A third school to already contact Carlino and his father, Mark, who may get a visit is San Diego.
A call from UNLV could be coming either Saturday night when the team's late-afternoon flight home lands, or on Sunday afternoon.
In his original recruitment out of high school, Carlino was scheduled to take an unofficial visit to UNLV last April on his way home from an official visit to UCLA. However, he ended up committing to Ben Howland and the Bruins while in Westwood.
If UNLV gets in the hunt, the interest would be mutual. Both Matt and Mark Carlino, the source said, are big fans of Kruger and Rebels assistant Steve Henson, who led the effort in courting him.
After graduating from Bloomington South a year early to enroll at UCLA, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound Carlino did not play in the Bruins' first seven games of the season. The first three were missed while waiting on medical clearance after suffering a concussion in practice on Nov. 8.
When he was cleared, Howland may have waited too long to pull the trigger on playing Carlino, who he was trying to convert into a shooting guard.
"I probably should have played him in the Montana game and we might not be having this discussion," Howland told the Los Angeles Times in reference to last Sunday's 66-57 loss to the Grizzlies.
But as it is, Carlino is looking for a new home. The source told the Sun that both Matt and Mark Carlino are going to stay under the radar and quiet during the search for a new school. Carlino announced his decision to leave UCLA on Friday through a statement that was prepared by his aunt's PR firm.
"I believe a new destination would be much healthier for me both personally and athletically," Carlino said in the statement. "I sincerely apologize to all those, especially those closest to me, who may find my decision disappointing."
It is believed that Carlino wants to go back to playing point guard at his new destination, and finding a suitor to comply with that certainly won't be hard.
BYU, who moves to the West Coast Conference for men's basketball next season. is attractive since it will lose star point guard Jimmer Fredette to graduation this spring. Carlino could fight for playing time right away, as he'd be eligible as a redshirt freshman at the conclusion of the fall semester next year and have 3.5 years left to play.
As for Butler, playing time will also be available pretty early, but the Bulldogs also have 6-foot-9, 220-pound freshman Erik Fromm, who helped Carlino lead Bloomington South to the 4A state regional finals last year.
UNLV has as strong of a case to present as anyone.
The Rebels are currently in the market for a point guard to take over the offense in the 2012-13 season, as current starter Oscar Bellfield will graduate following the 2011-12 campaign.
After missing on the likes of Jabarie Hinds, Ryan Boatright, Spencer Dinwiddie and others this fall, Carlino would provide the type of heady leader that Kruger covets, and could get roughly two-thirds of a season under his belt next year while still a freshman.
UNLV also has two UCLA transfers already on its roster who could help in Carlino's recruitment.
6-foot-8 junior Chace Stanback is averaging 13.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game this season for the Rebels, while 6-foot-8 Mike Moser is sitting out the 2010-11 season following his transfer last spring. Moser, who will be a sophomore next season, projects out to be a diverse small forward much like Stanback. Both were high-profile recruits out of high school who spent one year at UCLA.
As a senior at Bloomington South, Carlino averaged 13.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. He was listed by Rivals.com as a 3-star recruit.
For more on this story as it develops, continue to check back in at lasvegassun.com/rebels.