UNLV BASKETBALL:

Findlay Prep sophomore guard Nigel Williams-Goss verbally commits to UNLV

A standout in class of 2013, mature point guard now hopes to recruit and keep other top local talent home

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Leila Navidi

Nigel Williams-Goss, left, drives past teammate Nick Johnson during Findlay Prep basketball practice at Henderson International School in Henderson Thursday, March 25, 2010.

Updated Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010 | 10:40 a.m.

In the end, Nigel Williams-Goss said he didn't want to lead anyone on.

It's a big — and somewhat rare — decision for someone who's just a sophomore in high school to make, and it will be interesting to see if it sticks for two years, but the Findlay Prep star sophomore point guard avoided what was going to turn into a recruiting frenzy by committing to UNLV on Tuesday morning.

"I knew my heart was with UNLV and knew down the road that I saw myself playing at UNLV," he said while waiting to board a plane to Houston. "It was a well thought-out decision by me and my family."

Williams-Goss, who moved with his family to Las Vegas from Portland, Ore., before last season, is on pace to become Findlay's first ever four-year player. This season, the 6-foot-4 guard is averaging 15.1 point, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game while shooting 65.1 percent from the floor, 41.4 percent from deep and 90.9 percent at the line.

Intangibles are big with Williams-Goss, who is a wise-beyond-his-years type of point guard. He's a mature and polished leader and facilitator who will be a strong fit running the show for UNLV coach Lon Kruger.

As the youngest starter Findlay Prep has ever had, he's led the Pilots to a 14-1 record so far this winter. They'll play a nationally-televised game on ESPN at 6 p.m. PST Thursday against Yates (Texas) High in Houston.

Locals can catch a live glimpse of him on Saturday night at 8 p.m., when the Pilots take on Bishop Manogue at the South Point Arena.

Ranked by Rivals.com as a four-star recruit and widely-regarded as one of the top prospects in the class of 2013, Williams-Goss said those coming hardest after him were Arizona, Washington, Oregon and Oregon State, while Georgetown and UConn, among several others, were beginning to pick up the pace.

But while so many other major prospects in recent years have flirted with the idea of UNLV and then spurned Kruger & Co. for a bigger stage, Williams-Goss saw vast potential in both the program and the Mountain West Conference.

UNLV is off to a 9-1 start and on pace for a fourth NCAA tournament appearance in five years, while the league could land four teams in the NCAA tourney field for a second straight year.

"To me, (UNLV's) system is a lot like Findlay Prep's, so that won't be a tough transition," said Williams-Goss, who is a regular attendee at UNLV home games. "UNLV is a team on the rise right now, and the Mountain West is going upwards while a lot of those so-called power conferences, like the Pac-10 and ACC, are kind of going down. I think if they add more players, who knows how good it can be?"

Williams-Goss's top priority at the moment is trying to lead Findlay to its third consecutive ESPN Rise National High School Invitational title this April. But he said that his job on the side will be playing the role of a recruiter of sorts for UNLV.

The Rebels' staff is currently in hot pursuit of plenty of top talent in town, such as Findlay Prep junior forward Anthony Bennett and Bishop Gorman's junior trio of superstar guard Shabazz Muhammad, versatile forward Rosco Allen and rising forward Ben Carter.

"It's definitely another reason behind my decision — Now we can start building a team around me and I can try to bring guys with me to the team," he said. "If I committed later, some of those other guys might have committed to other places.

"Shabazz Muhammad is a great player, no doubt about it, and he's going to be one of those guys I'm going to try to get on my side, and I want to play with him."

Since moving to Las Vegas, Williams-Goss has made it no secret that he feels right at home in the desert.

He's also gotten a grasp on just how much more of a home Las Vegas can feel like if he stays around and helps keep UNLV on the rise.

"Everyone who's been telling me to go there was saying that if we could get UNLV back to the way it used to be, the city could be mine and everyone would love me here," he said. "I wanted to go somewhere where I was really loved and wanted by the fans, and I think I have that here."

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  1. Already with a comment removal on this cat? HAHA! The story just went up....

    Pumped up for this pick up and can't wait for the "pen on paper" to be finalized in the future.

    Hopefully this is a trend with other high-profile guys in town.

  2. Terrific news. Sincerely hope that his word is good and we see him in Rebel red. Runnin' Rebels!!

  3. Way to go Notorious! I guess we'll have to become UNLV fans now. My guess would have been Duke, but Vegas is closer to home and easier to get to. Hope Findlay Prep has a great year.

  4. WOW!!! Nigel is wise beyond his years, to hatch the great idea of committing to UNLV so that he can begin to recruit other very good players!!!

    What a leader Nigel is, show's a lot maturity to take ownership of his future and this situation.

    Once he is successful in his recruiting of the best talent in the area Nigel Williams-Goss is going to go down as a LAS VEGAS LEGEND!!!

  5. The first domino has fallen. Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett, Rosco Allen, Ben Carter... This is quite a unique situation, you have the chance to form a collegiate basketball superpower.

    This is your home and NOBODY in the world will show you as much love as the Runnin' Rebel faithful!!!

    With you four extremely talented and wise young men joining forces, combining hardwork and desire the sky is the limit!!!

    PLEASE COMMIT TO UNLV!!!!!

  6. You have no idea how good it can get at UNLV, regardless of conference allegiance. Back in the 1980s and 90s, UNLV lead the entire nation in merchandise sales for a few years. You can't do that at every school. Its got to be one that the entire nation can get behind....Vegas is the nation's playground, and you can become HUGE in this city....

    You're a smart kid....you already know this!

  7. Get behind UNLV peeps, going to be a wild ride. Great news to hear. Marshall was the most recent, and hopefully more Vegas players will stay home and beef up the team!

  8. Too bad this kid has never even played point guard during his two years at Findlay. Yet, they are listing him as a point guard with floor leadership skills? He's more of a slashing guard, who gets alot of buckets in the lane. Last I checked Cory Joseph was the point last year, and this year it is Myck Kabongo. He has a long way to go before I would look at him as a college point guard. He does have two years left, which is plenty of time to get those skills tuned but he is still a ways away. However, this is the biggest commit I have seen Kruger land since I've lived in Vegas, quite frankly I'm shocked. If Nigel gets better over the next two years, by his senior year he has a real chance to be a McDonald's All-American! P.S. the kid Anthony Bennett from Findlay would be a major commit too, that kid has a special skill set for a 6'8" frame. He has a surprisingly nice touch from the outside and with his frame he likes to bang inside also. It's about time Kruger started using this Findlay connect to his advantage.

  9. P.S. this kid Shabazz Muhamad from Gorman I have never understood the hype about. He's the definition of a tweaner I mean the kid is 6'5" and does the majority of his work down in the paint. Usually in big time college basketball if you are 6'5" you play the 2 guard, which this kid does not have the skills to play. He's strong as an ox but overpowering smaller kids in the Las Vegas public school league does not translate to big time college basketball. It's fitting that Roy Williams from UNC is recruiting him too, because all he has landed lately is overrated recruits that haven't panned out at Carolina.

  10. Shabazz needs to be here too

  11. Pathetic, key word to Roy Williams recruits was LATELY:

    Larry Drew, Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald, Kendall Marshall, Reggie Bullock, John Henson, Tyler Zeller (he's actually OK), and Harrison Barnes (time will tell with him but pre-season 1st team all-american, that's a joke). All of these recruits were top-100 prospects out of high school and can be pointed to the struggles UNC has had of late. P.S. half those dudes you listed were already there when Roy Williams took the job at UNC! And yes Shabazz is a good player, but alot of publications have him as a top-5 player in the nation in his class, which I have to disagree with because normally 6'5" post players don't materialize at the next level unless you are Charles Barkley. I mean he has another year to develop more of an outside game, but thus far I haven't seen much of one at all.

  12. imagine if UNLV was able to put a team on the floor that was 80% local kids. That would be phenomenal!

  13. I'll take good players period. Local, international, transfer, JC, or other as long as they are good and can gel with the team.

  14. Hopefully the locals out there will show strong support to findlay over the next couple years so local recruits get a glimpse of what it would be like to be rebels

  15. Just need a Juco star from Odessa Texas

  16. Canes4life
    He's only a sophomore at Findlay, the first 4 year player they'll have. He has played plenty of time prior to Findlay as point guard. He and my son have played together for years here in Portland. He is as good of a kid as he is a basketball player. He will adapt and do just fine wherever UNLV needs him. Just wait until he really gets a chance to lead at Findlay, which will come as he gets older. Everybody knows that the coach there works hard to get his older players looks from the college level. I'm sure that Nigel will have plenty of playing time over the next two and half years. Just look at the stats listed in the article...15.1 pts. a game with 65% from the floor and 41% from behind the arc. Great future! Great for UNLV.

  17. Wow! We even have some of the hardest critics excited about this one. Hopefully it pans out.

  18. That's nice the day UNLV gets a verbal from one of the better younger players in high school hoops they go out and lose to Cal-Santa Barbara at home. That has to make Nigel feel alot better about his choice!

  19. He's 15 years old, for God's sake! How can he make any decision except where to drop his drawers??? (On the floor, of course!!)

  20. Obviously it is about time Kruger & Co. landed one of the better Findlay players. I know this has frustrated a good number of us over the last few years. As the article alludes to, pick-ups such as this can help recruit other talented players to come to UNLV.

    Great pick-up IF it holds. I am excited to read this to a certain point, but a lot can happen over the next couple of years.