AP FILE PHOTO
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010 | 8 p.m.
Matt Carlino admits that after being recruited the first time around, one of his biggest regrets was ending things early by committing during an official visit to UCLA. That was just a day before he was going to stop and finally see the UNLV campus on his way home.
After only seven games in a Bruins uniform and having not seen the floor in any of them, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound Scottsdale, Ariz., native decided to transfer, and this time wants to be more thorough.
The first of his five allotted official visits began on Tuesday, when he arrived in sweats and a Yankees cap at UNLV's afternoon practice inside the Cox Pavilion.
The next three weeks will see him likely also take official trips to see Butler (this weekend), Saint Mary's (early next week), BYU (where he took an unofficial trip last weekend) and possibly San Diego.
It'll be hectic, taxing and give him a lot to absorb and think about, but Carlino knows that it's necessary.
"I wanted to see everything, and making an early decision probably wasn't the best thing," he recalled of his commitment to UCLA and coach Ben Howland back in April. "If you don't know everything, how are you going to make an educated decision? I'm not trying to take too much time because I have to make a decision to get to school (in time for the spring semester), but I'm going to try to take all of my visits or as many as I can until I know what the best place is for me."
The last time Carlino took the floor for an actual game, it was in the Indiana 4A state regional finals last spring. He helped lead Bloomington South to a 25-1 record, averaging 13.4 point, 5.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Carlino played his first two years of prep ball in Arizona, but moved to Bloomington for his junior year after committing to play college hoops at Indiana that summer. He would eventually de-commit from IU, graduate high school a year early and pick UCLA.
Being a Bruin, though, never turned out to be a good fit for the sharp-shooting Carlino, who Howland tried to convert into a shooting guard.
Now, Carlino is looking for a suitor who will let him play his natural position, and UNLV offers a nice opportunity in that department. Wherever Carlino decides to enroll this spring, he will be eligible to play after the conclusion of the 2011 fall semester. From there, he'll have 3.5 seasons left to suit up.
Carlino will spend time with the coaching staff and players throughout the trip and take in the team's Wednesday night game against UC Santa Barbara at the Thomas & Mack Center.
During Tuesday's practice, he spent time speaking with several of the assistant coaches and team staff members throughout the session and watched the Rebels hold a fast-paced, up-and-down, entertaining workout — one sure to make any point guard smile.
"They have a great coaching staff, and I had a relationship with coach (Steve) Henson and coach (Lon) Kruger for a while," he said. "It's obviously a good team, a Top 25 team and young, still, so they'll continue to get better.
"Then being able to play the point. Coach Kruger and coach Henson were both point guards and they know a lot about the game."
Carlino said that he also intends to pick the brains of UNLV forwards Chace Stanback and Mike Moser, both of whom transferred to Kruger's program after spending one year at UCLA. Carlino said that he has known Moser from their time briefly crossing paths in Westwood and already talked to him a bit about life at UNLV before taking the visit.
For more on this story as it develops, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.