REBELS BASKETBALL:

Stacey Augmon arrives at UNLV confident heading into new endeavor

Rebels legend excited to develop younger players and hit recruiting trail for the first time

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AP FILE PHOTO

Former UNLV greats Stacey Augmon, left, and Larry Johnson are congratulated by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski following the Rebel’s 103-73 victory over the Blue Devils in the 1990 NCAA championship game in Denver, Colo. Augmon, who played in the NBA for 16 seasons and spent the last four as an assistant with the Denver Nuggets, will be joining former teammate Dave Rice’s staff at UNLV as an assistant.

Stacey Augmon Through The Years

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When Stacey Augmon left UNLV in 1991 to embark on what would be a 15-year NBA career, he never saw himself coming back to sit on the bench at the Thomas & Mack Center in a suit and tie.

When legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian was forced out not long after, and the program began a downward spiral it wouldn't emerge from for more than two decades, the chances grew even slimmer.

Whatever hatchet that may have existed has now been officially buried, as Augmon left a cherry post as an assistant coach with the NBA's Denver Nuggets to join the staff of former Rebels teammate Dave Rice.

"When I think about it, the people that were involved in that are not here," Augmon said from his new digs at the Mack on Tuesday. "It strained (the relationship with UNLV) some, but once a Rebel, always a Rebel."

Augmon accepted the job last Tuesday, and a week later was back on campus, getting settled in and meeting with his new group of pupils. He began to cozy into his new office, with photos from his glory days as a Rebel peppering the hallways just outside the door.

He said Rice originally contacted him about coming back to his alma mater after accepting the head coaching position last month. Though Augmon didn't decide until last week to put his NBA coaching career on hold, he said he had it in the back of his mind throughout the end of the Nuggets' season. That culminated two weeks ago with a five-game first round loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"In the NBA, you move up quickly," Augmon said. "I was thinking I'd give myself three or four years and I'd be on the bench somewhere moving on to the next level and becoming a head coach. It's tough. I just feel something coming back here accepting the job. I don't know what it is. It's a good feeling, and this is a special place for me.

"I want to coach down here and see how it is at the college level, then evaluate from there, but I do want to be a head coach on one of those levels before it's all said and done."

Augmon, 42, joins Justin Hutson and Heath Schroyer as assistants on Rice's staff, and will be the only one on the bench without collegiate coaching experience.

Still, there appears to be little concern that the former All-American and third all-time leading scorer in UNLV history won't be a wild success in his new endeavor.

Augmon learned the art of player development from longtime UNLV assistant coach Tim Grgurich, who currently is working with the Dallas Mavericks, as both a player and peer. They also were together while in Denver and during Augmon's playing days in Portland. He maintained that Grgurich will be available to the UNLV program for wisdom as Rice gets underway as a head coach for the first time.

"I think the biggest challenge will be to get them to play the way (Rice) wants to," Augmon said of getting the current Rebels accustomed to playing a significantly more uptempo style of ball. "We can say we want to run, but it's not easy. It's not an easy task. Not everyone can play the running game. We'll have to see what we have with the talent here, but that's going to be the challenge for us."

Obviously, though, many on the outside — and within the program — see the hire as a potential slam dunk in terms of the boost it could give UNLV on the recruiting trail. That holds major weight considering the wealth of young talent available within the city limits in the 2012 class, in which the Rebels will have at least four open scholarships to fill.

It's a similar scenario to what Kansas had a few years back when head coach Bill Self brought former Jayhawk All-American and longtime NBA veteran Danny Manning onto his staff to not only coach big men, but also to help recruit top-shelf talent.

Augmon has never recruited a player before and knows he has plenty to brush up on before doing so, including familiarizing himself with how the NCAA rules have changed over the past two decades, but he'll take on the challenge with confidence.

"Everyone thinks their kids are going to the NBA," he said. "If you think about it, if you can go in and tell them I can get them to that next level or give them a chance to get to that next level, it could hold a lot of weight.

"I'm going to go personally on how I got there, because all odds were against me, also. From personally experience, getting them to come to UNLV, I'll know how to get you to the next level. That's going to be my sales pitch. I can work you out, I can show you what it takes, I can tell you which direction to go, because I've been through it."

Director of basketball operations hire coming soon

Expect news of a hire for the final post on Rice's staff — a director of basketball operations — either later this week or early next week.

The prime candidates with UNLV ties are former Rebel staffers Jay Spoonhour — currently the head coach at Moberly (Mo.) Community College — and Bill Wuczynski, who is now an assistant at TCU.

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  1. God bless these sports folks! Divinity rules!

  2. Nice to see augmon not punishing rebel fans new and old for unlv's crappy leaders decisions 20 years ago. We all said to axe max then and still hold to that today. I wonder if he knows how many people still wear his jersey to games. I new he wanted to be a head coach but if things work out with rice then I just hope he gives us at least three good years. Krugers one of the only coaches who hires lifers for assistant. We should just pay him practically the same thing as the head coach and make him the associate head coach when Justin leaves. Maybe then he will be like coach k's #1 guy as well. Thanks for coming home buddy.

  3. "We can say we want to run, but it's not easy. It's not an easy task. Not everyone can play the running game."

    That was a damn refreshing quote after being frustrated with Kruger's ball stopping offense that involved passing the ball around the perimeter for a low percentage outside shot. We are all embarrassed by the "Walking" Rebels label that was attached after the Dance this year. Kruger did a fantastic job teaching the team how to walk, let's hope that Rice/Augmon can teach the team how to run. Go Rebels!

  4. Who is the Kansas Alum you mentioned in the article?

  5. This was a smart move for Rice getting the Plastic Man. Augmon's 15 years of playing experience as well as his bench experience in the NBA will be able to bring in the blue chip players that Rice alone won't be able to recruit.

  6. RebinSeattle - Danny Manning is the assistant at Kansas that was mentioned in the article.

  7. Sorry about the Manning typo, fellas.

  8. @Ryan: What can you tell us about the role of Tim Grgurich on next year's staff?

  9. I know it's insanely early, but Lunardi at ESPN has UNLV as a #5 pick for the bracket. I think that's a pretty good judge on how good the rebels are going to be this next season even with all the changes happening.

  10. Stacey was a huge get for this staff, he will work wonders in the recruiting game. Just his overall UNLV mystique about him is what we needed. This team will blow up next year, we should be able to play an aggressive uptempo style that gets to the rack in open space.

  11. I need to freeze myself for 6 months and wake up for the exhibition games. Will be interesting to see how the current players respond to all the changes. Here's hoping that Stacey can coach shutdown defense anywhere near as well as he played it. If so, we will dominate the MWC this upcoming season...go Rebels

  12. I'm not so sure that there won't be a transition year with a new style of play. Specially with the schedule that we have next year. I think we are good for at least 20 wins though. If this just clicks right though we could see 30 wins again. Only time will tell. Can we out run NC next year. That's their signature too and the return alot of star players. We play them (most likely) at the Orleans but we have little luck there. Hopefully that was because of Kruger and new luck begins with rice.

  13. There is a poll on fox sports that ask who will have more success in there first year as a head coach. There are like five choices but one of the votes is for Kruger and one is for Rice. You guys should vote to support.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/collegebasketba...
    (I think that is the link)

  14. Augmon is a UNLV legend, but most of the players on the team weren't even born when he was around. I'm interested to hear what the current players think.

    I think jedwards is right on the money when he says Augmon brings a mystique with him and I'm excited to see how that plays into recruiting.

    I'm also curious as to how potential players are taking the news. What are recruits most intrigued about: His legacy at UNLV? His time as a player in the NBA? His role as a player development coach in the NBA?

    As fans, we love to bring up the championship squad, but is that alluring to an 18 year old?

  15. I doubt Augmon will use the "do you know who I am" approach when he is recruiting. I also believe that todays players are smarter then people give them credit for as well, most young players study hoop history about who they are being recruited by & who is their recruiter. If they dont know Stacey they will learn real quick, besides parents & single mothers raising todays players will know who Stacey is if they followed basketball at all in their teens & early 20's.

    I believe Stacey will be a great recruiter, he is one of the best Rebels of all time, a national champion, a long time veteran of the NBA, & former NBA coach, recruits will listen to Stacey when he is sitting in their living room. He could possibly end up as the best recruiter UNLV has ever had if he plays his cards right. Stacey knows what kind of players to look for & what kind of players it takes to win. He will land talented players, once they arrive I believe that Stacey will sharpen their competitive edge, you know that edge that make you "a REBEL".

  16. I don't know if it really matters if a recruit knows who Augmon is before he visits because you know that the recruit is going google Augmon and see that he was a great college player, played in the NBA, and was recently an NBA coach. Access to information will definitely give Augmon an advantage despite a recruit's personal knowledge of him.

  17. On the herd this morning, Colin was basically comparing the playing style and skill of lebron James to Larry johnson. Then spent a 30 second rant about how he preferred to watch the great playing of Stacy augmon over Larry Johnson at unlv. Perfect time for Augmon to start getting credit.