REBELS BASKETBALL:

Hometown draw: Anthony Marshall’s rise at UNLV continues

Sophomore guard poised to be Rebels’ breakout star in highly-anticipated 2010-11 season

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Already a hometown hero of sorts, UNLV sophomore guard Anthony Marshall is poised for a breakout season in 2010-11. After averaging 5.3 points and 3.1 rebounds as a freshman reserve, the Mojave High product refined his outside shot and lived in the gym this summer. To boot, he's also becoming a face of the Rebels program in a hurry.

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UNLV guard Anthony Marshall celebrates a dunk on UNI during their first round NCAA Basketball Tournament game Thursday, March 18, 2010 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma Ctiy.

Next Game

  • Opponent: UC Riverside
  • Where: Thomas & Mack Center
  • When: Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m.
  • TV: None
  • Radio: ESPN 1100 AM/98.9 FM

What others are saying

  • UNLV legend and fellow Vegas native Greg Anthony on Marshall's potential: "Honestly, it's the intangibles and his demeanor. That's something that's really key. He has a lot of poise on the floor. And when you carry yourself that way, it gives everybody a little more confidence out there. Physically, the kid's got a lot of tools. More importantly, it'll be about how he conducts himself out there and being able to be a leader. Getting guys to follow him ... Look, potentially, he could be solid as anybody who's played here in a long time. That's a non-issue. I think his work ethic has been tremendous, from what I understnad. And he's going to get the opportunity. It's just a matter of it all coming together for him, being patient, and I think that's where those intangibles he has will really benefit him once he gets going."
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UNLV basketball ad featuring sophomore guard Anthony Marshall.

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As a Mojave High senior, Anthony Marshall shoots over a Cheyenne defender during the 2008-09 season.

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UNLV sophomore guard Anthony Marshall opted to play for his hometown school despite interest from major programs in every time zone. Part of his reasoning was so he could continue to be a role model to his four younger siblings. So far, entering his second season with the Rebels, he's succeeding.

On Anthony Marshall's heavily-tattooed upper right arm, below a pair of flaming dice, reads "702 Raised."

Born in Louisiana, the UNLV sophomore guard moved to the desert soon after. Now, on the verge of a breakout season, he's become a valuable marketing tool for a program constantly trying to further connect itself with the Las Vegas community.

Marshall has come a long way in a short period of time, going from a highly touted yet raw recruit out of Mojave High to one of the prominent faces of the UNLV men's basketball program.

"It's kind of surreal," Marshall said of the whirlwind that's been the last year. "Everything's kind of happening so fast, I'm just trying to kind of take it in. A couple of years ago, I could have never imagined myself, my team in the position we're in.

"I'm letting it go day by day and soaking it in but staying humble, because I can remember times when I didn't have this."

According to Danielle Marshall, her oldest child's humility was cultivated during a childhood shaped by faith and harsh realities.

"He basically knows where he's come from," she said. "We've had a hard upbringing and it just makes me feel good because he's striving for excellence."

A passion for hoops that she said began to develop around the age of 3 or 4 only continued to grow.

Fast-forward to just three years ago, and Marshall was becoming well-known among basketball circles far beyond Vegas as a top prep talent worthy of more than a quick look from recruiters.

Despite attention that came from the likes of Tennessee, UCLA, Baylor and several others, Marshall committed to UNLV before his senior year at Mojave. Ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 66 prospect in the 2009 senior class, he was one of the most heralded recruits coach Lon Kruger had yet to pull in at UNLV.

As a freshman, Marshall emerged as a key reserve for a Rebels team that went 25-9 and appeared in the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years. Highlighted by some key late-season performances, he averaged 5.3 points and 3.1 rebounds a game. Well-built and athletic with long arms that hang almost to his knees, Marshall was a terror on defense and had a penchant for providing highlight dunks.

But one glaring weakness was on many folks' minds as Marshall entered the off-season — his shooting.

A gifted slasher who in high school could get to the bucket and score at will, against athletes on the same level as him in college Marshall was forced to shoot from the outside more. He was just 1-of-23 from 3-point range as a freshman and struggled to a 54.8 percent showing at the free throw line.

"I'm not really trying to make it seem like everyone beat him up and pulled him down. It was good criticism," Danielle said. "They said that 'You need to work on your shot, work on your 3-pointer.'

"He knew he was weak in those areas, so he made up his mind that this is what he was going to do."

Marshall spent most of his time this summer in the gym. When not running pick-up games, he was trying to get those long arms and big hands to form a smoother shot stroke. Working with him a few times a week was former Rebels' guard and current radio color analyst Robert Smith. With Smith, Marshall focused on improving his footwork.

The work ethic has stayed the same since the start of team practices last month, as he's in the gym before practice sessions and long after, getting up extra outside shots with the assistant coaches.

"I think a lot of it is just repetition," Marshall said. "Last year, it was kind of hard for me to get in the gym because of school and stuff like that. This year, I made my schedule work around me a little bit where I'm able to come in before and get shots up and stay longer after practice.

"I'm coming in a lot more confident and feeling a lot better about my shot."

With senior guard Tre'Von Willis — the Rebels' leading scorer and a first-team All-Mountain West performer a year ago — currently serving a suspension of at least three games following off-season legal issues, Marshall has shone in his place.

In two exhibition blowouts, Marshall has totaled 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including a 2-of-3 showing from 3-point territory.

He'll again be in the starting rotation on Friday night when UNLV opens its 2010-11 regular season at 7:30 p.m. against UC Riverside at the Thomas & Mack Center.

At the earliest, Willis will be back on the floor next Wednesday when UNLV hosts Southeastern Louisiana. If Marshall performs the same way on Friday and in practices as he has been of late, there may be no guarantee that Willis reclaims his same old starting job right away.

When Kruger and his staff were recruiting Marshall, they could see this type of career playing out. The seventh-year Rebels coach said that Marshall was different than many prospects they'd tried to woo before.

"When we were recruiting him, he made a statement one time that it's very important to him that he serves as a positive role model for others in his community," Kruger recalled. "That speaks well to how conscious he is of the impact he can make."

Willis's tumultuous off-season, in turn, made it tough for UNLV's marketing team to roll out an ad campaign for the season with the senior guard as the face of it.

Instead, they began using Marshall and junior guard Oscar Bellfield. The pitch, which centers around the slogan 'Get your Reb on,' includes signage around town and commercials featuring the two wearing the handlebar mustaches similar to the team's mascot, Hey Reb.

According to D.J. Allen, who recently became a senior associate athletic director at UNLV in charge of marketing, Marshall's hometown appeal definitely played into the decision.

So far, he's been a model student and citizen, avoiding the traps that have caught previous local prospects that stayed home to play and ultimately derailed their careers. Marshall credits keeping himself surrounded with a small group of people who he said has molded him into the person he is today. They include family, a few friends and former coaches.

"(His siblings) are really ecstatic about what he's doing," Danielle said. "My 6-year-old can tell you every team they've played, who won, who's on the team, the stats. It's just unbelievable. My 15-year-old attends Mojave and is playing basketball. (Anthony has) set the path for him, and they're following his path.

"They're so excited because they see him on TV, see him in the newspaper and when we talk about college to his younger siblings, they're just amazed at how college works. That's an inspiration to them, so they're striving also to go to college."

The impact of putting a hometown product out there can also be beneficial for Kruger and his program in the near future, as the city is currently stocked strong with prep talents that UNLV has its eye on.

Among them are a pair of highly touted juniors at Bishop Gorman in forward Rosco Allen and guard Shabazz Muhammad. Both are considered Top-20 national prospects in the class of 2012 by several recruiting services.

Like Marshall, both are being courted by bigger schools from bigger conferences across the country.

The pressure that can come with staying home to play for an up-and-comer of a program can be great, and the pitfalls plentiful. But Marshall hopes his success so far can serve as an inspiration.

"We have a lot of great young players in Vegas," Marshall said. "By them coming up and seeing me play well, it can give them the confidence that they can come in here and do the same."

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  1. Just keep focused on those jumpers!!!

  2. This is a kid that is only going to get better. He is a game changer and with an improving outside shot it is very likely that he can average double figures this year on a very balanced offensive team. Runnin' Rebels!

  3. Thank you staff

    @Huston
    Raising above and not being involved in such actions, while surrounded by it, speaks to his charachter. You don't get the point of this if you think else wise.

  4. Digging the ink AntMarz! Looking for a breakout season from him, and glad to see him more confident already in his shooting. I think UNLV is going to average a ton of points this year with the way they have been shooting.

  5. Wade,
    Can always count on you to make things interesting, AntMrz, nice.

    Anthony is really looking good and you can see all the work he put in over the summer.

    I agree, they should score more, and if they control the boards it will really open things up.

    GO REBS!!

  6. Very good article. He understands what he needs to work on to make his game better, but his commitment to the community sums it up for me.

  7. We have a VERY, VERY good team...totally flying under the radar!!! Keep up the hard work and you will always reep benefits from it.

  8. ROSCO ALLEN, SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD PLEASE STAY IN LAS VEGAS AND PLAY BASKETBALL FOR UNLV!!!

    THIS IS YOUR HOMETOWN AND WE ARE YOUR BIGGEST SUPPORTERS!!!

    YOU'LL GO DOWN AS LAS VEGAS LEGENDS!!!

  9. Love this story. Stay above the madness Anthony!

  10. Thisispathetic = the new sufferin.

    Hey Ryan, is there a way I can make it so I can only read verified comments again?