REBELS BASKETBALL:

USC transfer Bryce Jones enjoys weekend visit to UNLV, in no rush to decide

6-foot-5 shooting guard also looking into San Diego State and Gonzaga during recruiting process

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AP FILE PHOTO

USC transfer Bryce Jones is being pursued by UNLV. The Rebels are competing with the likes of San Diego State and Gonzaga for the 6-foot-5 shooting guard’s services. Wherever Jones ends up, he’ll sit out the 2011-12 season per NCAA transfer rules, then have three years to play beginning in 2012-13.

Bryce Jones's visit to UNLV last weekend was about more than just checking out the campus and facilities for the first time.

He's doing some deeper research on the side.

"I'm kind of looking more at backgrounds this time," he said. "Where the coach came from, why he left where he came from, talk to some other people who have played for him."

It was a tough separation from the USC program for Jones when he decided to transfer back in January.

At the time, playing time and broken promises appeared to be the clear culprit.

Jones, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who was the No. 97 prospect in the 2010 class according to Rivals.com, started the Trojans' first 10 games, averaging 28.1 minutes and 11.2 points an outing. Then, when highly touted Fordham transfer Jio Fontan became eligible following the fall semester's conclusion, Jones was moved to the bench, averaging only 11.1 minutes a game over the next eight.

Coincidentally, after he left the program, stories of a locker room altercation with teammate Garrett Jackson and another dust-up with a resident advisor in his dorm came out.

Jones acknowledges that both incidents happened but also said that both versions given to the local media were blown out of proportion. His side of the story is that he and Jackson simply carried emotions over from the practice floor and hadn't yet cooled off when they got to the locker room. Jones said he and Jackson smoothed the situation over later in the day, are still friends and still attend classes together.

As for the dorm incident, Jones said, it was merely a verbal argument with the RA over loud music in his room. He also admits now that he was wrong in the matter.

"I knew it was going to come out sooner or later," Jones said. "I just wanted to separate and move on.

"I want (a fresh start) pretty bad."

As of right now, that fresh start will come at either UNLV, San Diego State or Gonzaga. The trip to Las Vegas was his first official visit in the second go-around in the recruiting process. He's taken in a game at SDSU this year and will likely take visits to the other two spots in the near future.

Jones said he's in no rush to make a decision but felt comfortable at UNLV while surrounded by some familiar faces.

His visit was hosted by former Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft High teammate Justin Hawkins.

"I got to see the school and how nice the campus is; he took me on a tour around the school," Jones said. "That was my first time inside the Thomas & Mack. It was pretty nice in there. I got to meet the guys, see the facilities and stuff."

Jones also played some pick-up ball with the team on Saturday morning. Also in attendance for that run was Bishop Gorman standout junior and top 2012 recruit Shabazz Muhammad.

Muhammad and Jones have been close since a young age, as their fathers were at USC together in the 1980s and the families have been friends ever since.

Muhammad is one of UNLV's top targets in the 2012 class, as the staff has at least four scholarships to fill after the 2011-12 season. There is one open for next year, and Jones fits the bill of what the staff is looking for — a transfer who can get adjusted over the next year and add some needed scoring punch when eligible. Wherever he lands, he'll have three years to play beginning in the 2012-13 season.

"It's pretty wide open right now," Jones said. "I liked UNLV a lot, but I'm going to take my time."

Lon Kruger and his staff also came away with a strong impression of Jones and put a clear scholarship offer on the table for him.

It's another step in Jones rebuilding both his collegiate career and image.

"I'm not into retaliation," Jones said of telling his side of the USC story. "Hopefully, wherever I go, they'll take my word for it that nothing (bad) happened."

UNLV commit Dantley Walker named first team Parade All-American

Lincoln County High guard Dantley Walker, who committed to UNLV last month, was given one of high school basketball's highest honors on Monday.

The scoring sensation who averaged 36.2 points and 10.4 assists per game as a senior, drawing comparisons to BYU star Jimmer Fredette along the way, was named a first-team Parade All-American.

Walker will head on a two-year Mormon mission after graduation and will join the Rebels as a freshman in the 2013-14 season.

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  1. Sounds like a good player to pick up. Stats look good, and was a standout in going to USC. It would be a great boost with our lean depth at PG after Oscar next year.

  2. @ Ryan,
    Dantley Walker is intriguing, I checked out some of his highlights & he can flat out score from anywhere but I'm just curious to know if you know how well he's played against top national talent in AAU ball? I'm not sure the level of competition he's played against is even decent.

  3. Walker can play against anyone (offensively) cause he can shoot off the dribble, like jimmer. What I want to see is him produce is defense so he can play more mins. Also like jimmer he looks like he forefits defense for more offense. If he can score thirty a night at unlv I'll give him a pass but I don't think so if he doesn't pick up his defense as well. If he get twenty mins a game with his shooting ability he could get 20+ a game though.

  4. From the youtube videos he obviously can score but physically he needs to get much stronger. Two years on a Mormon mission will allow his body to mature which will be helpful. Always a guess about a big time scorer from a very small school being able to score at the D1 level.

  5. Could landing Jones help in the recruitment of Shabazz?

  6. Seems like a legit reason Jones wants to transfer -- the key being that he was producing decent numbers.

    If he has ANY chance of helping land Shabazz, I hope we get him!

    ShaBANNGGGG!!!!

  7. James, honestly, I only saw him once in AAU ball and he looked fine to me. Obviously he's probably never going to score 35 ppg at the D-I level, but from talking to him, he has every intention of keeping his game sharp and trying to add about 15-20 pounds to his frame during his two-year mission. I think he'll be effective at UNLV, it just might take him some time to get the rust off.

  8. And, yes, I think this can only help with Shabazz.

  9. Landing Shabazz would send this program into the next level that all UNLV fans would be excited about. Finally landing a big time local kid! Then if we could get him to help land a big timer from Findlay instead of letting them get out of town to Texas would help the program turn the corner.

    Gonzaga played 10 deep this year. They go out and play everyone, home and away each year. With their conference being close to the same level of the new MWC, UNLV would be wise to take a page out of the Gonzaga scheduling book. At least we might be able to see UNLV play on more of a natinal stage if they played more road games against big time teams. Jones would have to fight to start for the Zags.

    Lon getting some rebounders, a big post man and some kids who want to play up tempo - he should be letting them tell him how they want to play to get them. To finally have a real shot at a big time local kid who has national programs after him is amazing. Hire his Dad to be on the staff or his AAU Coach, we need to do something to get these kids and everyone else is doing it. Since Lon has not produced an NBA first rounder while at UNLV, he needs to get a bit more creative. Hire Reggie Theus to be on the bench with you!

  10. "Finally landing a big time local kid!" - Like Anthony Marshall way back in 2008

  11. I do agree with trying to hire Theus as an assistant.

  12. You people are living in a bubble if you think Shabazz Muhammad is going to throw away his basketball career by choosing UNLV over UNC, Kansas, Duke, etc. That would be like choosing Courtney Love over Jessica Alba. Let's get a grip on reality people.

  13. After Marshall or before Marshall who has UNLV landed that is local? Marshall was being recruited by Duke, Kansas and North Carolina too right? He was not.

    Marshall shows a ton of heart and should be a starter.

    To hear about Theus being in line for the Fresno State job should be a concern, the guy can recruit and with their admission standards he should not struggle getting a kid into their program.

    Having a guy who has played for UNLV or has serious NBA playing experience on the bench would be a great thing for the program. Interesting how no one is talking about Dave Rice for a single opening on the West Coast. Lets put UNLV down as a major player for recruits and add some sizzle on Krugers bench. Getting top level High School recruits has to be paramount and if they can work with a former NBA star while at UNLV it cant help but be a positive for kids looking at UNLV.

    We all wish Kruger well, I would like to see him fine tune his staff to help recruiting.

  14. It's nice to see that Jones is being thorough in his approach.

    As for Shabazz, very hard to see him choosing UNLV after he leaves the University of Texas at Henderson.

  15. Shabazz is goign pro after one year anyway...max two.....he might as well come here......It would likely guarantee a deep NCAA run........IF we can get one ...shot blocker!!!!!!

  16. @MWCRob - Shabazz goes to Gorman not Findlay

  17. Here's the deal on the Walker kid: Everybody talks about his scoring, and he is a great scorer, but his passing is unbelievable. He will be a true PG in college. He won't have to score all his team's points at UNLV like he did in HS. If Kruger says get the ball to Shabazz and whomever, he'll get that ball to those players every time down. He loves to run and gun too-like the old Rebel squads. I can see him and Shabazz ally-ooping all over the thomas and mack. The thing is, if they don't play him honest, Walker will bust from everywhere. He hit mores 3's than anybody in the nation with over 150 his senior year and most were from NBA and Jimmer range. He can drive and dish. If he gets fouled he hits 90% from the line. He's in the mold of Steve Nash, Bobby Hurley, and Stephen Curry. He'll run the team and do whatever the team needs. How many 1st team all-americans has UNLV had? They got one now. Kid was a sleeper because he's 5'11 and played at a smaller HS -but who cares. Only 2 colleges recruited Jimmer. Wasn't he just named College Player of the year? Society loves these athletic guys that are big and can run and dunk- but in the college game we keep seeing guys like Reddick, Adam Morrison, the Jimmer, and Stephen Curry like players, get best player of the year. I like these players with skills- not just athletes-I mean who could shoot and really pass for the Rebels this year? All we really had were athletic guys and Illinois made us look bad. But I realize we need both. Kruger seems to be getting both lately with some good recruits. Not sure about next years team, but in a few years we get Walker, Nigel from Findley Prep, and maybe Shabazz-and the Rebs can make their best run since 1991.

  18. Might lose him now.