REBELS BASKETBALL:

Heath Schroyer’s hire at UNLV made official, leaving Dave Rice with two spots to fill

Rebel great Stacey Augmon mulling over decision to either return to alma mater or remain an NBA assistant

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Andy Carpenean / AP

Wyoming coach Heath Schroyer, right, talks with guard Desmar Jackson during a Jan. 25, 2011 game against UNLV in Laramie, Wyo.

In Heath Schroyer's first season as a head coach in 2002-03, Portland State went 5-22 and finished eighth in the Big Sky Conference.

Two years later, the Vikings were 19-9 and atop the league standings.

His new boss — Dave Rice — isn't taking over a rebuilding project at UNLV as a first-time head coach, but he sees Schroyer as a rich source to draw from as he goes through the dance for the first time himself.

Schroyer's hire as the second assistant on Rice's staff was made official on Thursday, roughly 10 weeks after he was let go as the head coach at Wyoming in the middle of his fourth season.

"He's someone who's been through some of the things a first-time head coach has gone through," Rice said. "He's been a head coach for seven years, he knows the Mountain West really well and has recruiting contacts on the East Coast. We wanted to find someone who had recruiting contacts in another part of the country."

Schroyer was 49-61 in his four seasons at Wyoming, but that goes down as the lone blemish on his coaching résumé. He's been a successful assistant at Fresno State, BYU and Wyoming, crossing paths with Rice at several points along the way.

"The year he was an assistant at Wyoming (2001-02), he was the defensive coordinator for coach (Steve) McClain, the year Wyoming won the Mountain West title," Rice said. "He's a terrific defensive coach."

Specific roles within Rice's staff, which also includes associate head coach Justin Hutson, have yet to be determined, but he's drawing from his past as an assistant and knows how he wants the coaching process to be executed. It's beneficial to Schroyer, who now begins the climb back to another head coaching opportunity.

"The coaches I've worked for have all given me an opportunity to coach," Rice said. "It'll be no different with our guys.

"It's one of those things where we're going to make a lot of decisions as a staff, be very united and take it to the practice floor."

No matter what Schroyer's developmental role is, he'll be expected to work his recruiting magic in territories where UNLV recently hasn't had much of a presence.

Schroyer, a Maryland native, was able to lure some intriguing talents from the East Coast out to Laramie, Wyo., highlighted by swingman Afam Muojeke. The New York native was the 2009 Mountain West Freshman of the Year, though his career has since come across tough times following a pair of knee injuries.

The make-up of the staff to this point is interesting, as it so far appears to have the makings of a young, energetic group. Schroyer and Hutson are both 39 years old, both defensive-minded, both strong recruiters and intense, in-your-face instructors when they have to be.

Now Rice must fill the final two spots on the bench — one more assistant and a director of basketball operations.

Rice said that the assistant post will be filled first, and he expects that move to be made "sooner rather than later."

One name attached to that gig for a couple of weeks now is that of UNLV legend Stacey Augmon, who is an assistant with the Denver Nuggets. An offer has been on the table for Augmon, who indicated early on that he would not make a decision until Denver's season ended. That happened on Wednesday night, as the Nuggets were bounced from their first-round playoff series by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Attempts to reach Augmon on Thursday were unsuccessful, as he's keeping quiet while mulling his options.

"He's got a great situation with Denver," said Rice, who was teammates with Augmon from 1989-91. "Does he want to stay in the NBA or come back to his alma mater? He's just in the process of making that decision.

"We don't want to rush him. We're excited about the possibility, but if he decides to stay, who can blame him for staying in the NBA?"

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  1. Stacy, lets be real. Working in the NBA is cool but the nuggets are not going to beat the lakers or okc any time soon. Come back home where you are loved. You won a national championship with unlv before, let's see ya do it again. How many people can say that. One as a player and one as a coach, with the same team.

    Ps. I do relize that rice would fit into that same category.

  2. No one asked me.. but I do not get this hire. WYO played much better AFTER Schroyer left this year. Even Jay Spoon would have made more sense IMO. Time will tell.. cannot wait until Nov.

  3. Schroyer is a good pick up.

  4. Ryan:
    What are our chances to pick up O'brien and Jones? Will they each have 3 years of eligibility left? And did we just not like Woolridge or did he not like us? I understand him looking at Washington State, but for him to look at Utah and Reno seems a little weird. Unless he's just looking for immediate playing time and he doesn't care how good of program he's heading in to.

  5. blueandgold, I think they have a good shot at both. I don't know how hard the staff is really pursuing Woolridge just yet. From what I can tell, O'Brien and Jones are the top two options.

  6. A little experience on the bench would be a nice mix here....someone to impart some wisdom..........At this point the staff looks like the backstreet boys!!!!