REBELS BASKETBALL:

UNLV lands key commitment from USC transfer Bryce Jones

6-foot-5 shooting guard will be eligible as a redshirt sophomore in 2012-13 campaign

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USC transfer Bryce Jones, after two months of mulling his options, gave a commitment to Dave Rice and UNLV on Saturday, May 21, 2011. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard will sit out during the 2011-12 season per NCAA transfer rules, then suit up for the Rebels in 2012-13 as a redshirt sophomore.

Ever since his official visit to UNLV in late March, it was speculated that the Rebels were the consistent frontrunner to land USC transfer Bryce Jones.

Even after a coaching change that altered the program's landscape and future, that held true, and on Saturday, the pledge finally came.

Jones, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, will join the Rebels, sit out next season per NCAA transfer rules and be eligible to play as a redshirt sophomore in the 2012-13 season.

"I just felt comfortable with the coaching staff, comfortable with the guys on the team and the program is headed for big things — I wanted to be a part of it," Jones said. "It just feels like a big relief. Now I can use the summer to keep getting better."

Jones said he hasn't decided yet whether he'll be spending the summer in Las Vegas or at home in Los Angeles.

A former teammate of current UNLV guard Justin Hawkins at Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft High, Jones headed to Southern Cal last year as the No. 97 overall prospect in the 2010 class according to Rivals.com.

He started the Trojans' first 10 games, averaging 28.1 minutes and 11.2 points per outing over that stretch. When highly-touted Fordham transfer Jio Fontan became eligible after the fall semester, Jones turned into a reserve and averaged only 11.1 minutes over the next eight games before deciding to transfer in January.

Stories of a locker room altercation with teammate Garrett Jackson and another run-in with a resident adviser in his dorm leaked not long after, though Jones provided his versions of both stories after an overall positive visit to UNLV two months ago. It was also pretty well known that he and USC coach Kevin O'Neill never quite saw eye-to-eye on a consistent basis.

He wanted a fresh start and took his time to make sure the right choice was made.

Less than a week after his visit, coach Lon Kruger surprised many by leaving for the vacant Oklahoma job, but Jones never ruled UNLV out.

Not long after Dave Rice was hired to replace Kruger in April, he continued the program's recruitment of Jones. Naming San Diego State's Justin Hutson as his associate head coach didn't hurt in that effort, either, as Hutson was recruiting Jones to SDSU before taking the new gig.

"I was developing a relationship with him while he was over there," Jones said. "I felt comfortable enough to stay in touch with him after he moved on."

The other top potential suitor for Jones was Gonzaga, who had pursued him during the entire spring semester while he was still attending classes at USC. However, he never wound up taking an official visit to Spokane, as it was postponed three times for a variety of reasons.

"It just kind of fell apart," he said.

In the meantime, he got to know Rice better and also familiarized himself with new UNLV assistants Heath Schroyer and Stacey Augmon.

Now, he's the first piece in place in a crucial group of newcomers for the 2012-13 season, as the program will lose four scholarship players — Chace Stanback, Oscar Bellfield, Kendall Wallace and Brice Massamba — after this season and still has one open scholarship heading into the 2011 fall semester. That vacancy could end up being filled by Utah transfer J.J. O'Brien, who is expected to decide soon between UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State and a few others.

Jones said that after playing his last game at USC at 195 pounds, a semester's worth of working out has him currently at a still-lean 210. He'll continue to try and bulk up over the next year and said one area needing the most improvement before he sets foot on the floor at UNLV is his ballhandling. Conditioning will also be a focal point, preparing to thrive as a primary scorer in Rice's uptempo system.

He'll also be doing a bit of light recruiting on the side.

Jones is longtime friends with current Bishop Gorman star Shabazz Muhammad, who is regarded as one of the truly elite recruits in the 2012 senior crop. Along with being pursued by the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky and every other upper crust program in the country, UNLV is pushing hard and squarely in the hunt.

"I'll be in touch with him," Jones said. "I'll try to get him to come join me."

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  1. Ryan - Where do we stand on filling the scholarship for this year? Does Jones take that last remaining scholarship? Any news on an incoming freshman? Also what is Buckley's status for next year? Thanks.

  2. Glad to see recruiting is still very much on track in the wake of the coaching change, excellent job by Dave Rice's staff. High expectations for Jones, he could turn out to be really special. If Jones among others can compel Shabazz Muhammad to come, his commitment is worth its weight in gold!
    www.RebelReign.com

  3. Buckley's status is he will not play for UNLV this year or any year for that matter. And there is still one open schollie that can be used on O'Brien if they so choose.

  4. Yes, that's correct on Buckley. He's completely out of the picture and, honestly, I think has been for quite some time. J.J. O'Brien should be deciding this week, and if he goes elsewhere, I wouldn't be shocked if UNLV at least looked into the possibility of going after Dwayne Polee for its one remaining opening. It appears that the guy who a couple of times was on the verge of committing to UNLV a year ago is now leaving St. John's. He'd be an ideal fit in Rice's uptempo system.

  5. With all of the local talent in the 2012 class that is seriously considering UNLV, I'd be shocked if they don't just carry the last remaining scholarship over to next season, leaving us with 5 scholarships open for that 2012 class.

    Bryce Jones is going to be a great addition to the team. He's a natural scorer and a very good three point shooter. The fact that he is very good friends with Shabazz doesn't hurt on the recruiting front either. This is a very good first get foor the new staff. Hopefully it is a sign of big things to come as far as recruiting goes.

  6. Haha, what a surprise. Polee is transferring. Even if he is good (which he is) I say screw that. We don't need the baggage especially when we already warned him as fans.

  7. Would love to have Polee, should he reconsider UNLV. Nice pick-up (talking about Jones now), long and athletic, just the type of player for an uptempo, old school Vegas offense

  8. Shotblockers?????? Not going anywhere without a shotblocker? The only legit run we have had here in 13 years was with Joel anthony...SHOCK.....hes a big time shot blocker....anyone remember the NCAAs....He made us legit.........ALL efforts have to be to getting a athletic shotblocker......I have ZERO doubt Rice will get us speedy athletic guards that can RUN...but Running starts with Defense and shotblocking!

  9. I really like Lopez inside...but we need to pair a shotblocking big man...to add a little toughness and intimidation.......RYAN- IS there one on the horizon????? Or even a RUMOR of a legit bigman?????? (fingers crossed!)

  10. @Paul G

    I actually think Lopez will be the guy you are looking for under a new system with 2 bigs. Even a good shoot blocker has trouble if there are 4 gaurds around them. Having another big as a dynamic duo to control boards and thwart endless penetration will be a big difference. This year there are no bigs really unsigned, maybe next year will be different.

  11. REBELS!!!!

    This guy is going to be a heck of a player in a year to two.

  12. I'd say odds are Polee ends up at SDSU. At least that's the way it looks early on...

  13. This guy is going to be a problem....locker room issues & run-ins with his RA.....he's a hothead that we don't need.

  14. Many of us predicted this about Polee. Raw talent and no skills. I'm gald we got Mashour instead.

  15. Jones is a good player and I think he will flourish in an uptempo pace. USC has been playing some major slow ball the past few years that has worked to a degree, but is boring to watch. This may be a better tempo that Jones was looking for.

  16. Lopez is the most talented big man we have had since Keon Clark, or Kambala likely....I like his style.....but he is not the Shot Blocker intimidator, that Im talking about......likely will never be....he does play with some attitude which I love, but If you saw any team that made a run they had at least ONE tall athletic rim protector..........It cant be denied.......and Rice will have to work some magic........Im praying he does!!!!!!

  17. PS....for all the hoopla about Shabazz, even if he chooses UNLV , without a shot blocker/bigman we would still struggle against top flite competition......Players like Shabazz usually do better in the NBA anyways....Think Vince Carter.....even Kobe......Big NBA sized two guards get clogged up in the smaller zone packed court of college..............Im praying he does come here....but still need some size!!!!!.Go Rebs!

  18. Its amazing how quick some people are to judge others. He had a couple of run-ins with people at USC, but understand there are two sides of every story. If you think that fighting amongst teammates in locker rooms is really that uncommon, you're dreaming. The fact is that this happens at a lot of schools, but it is kept in-house because the players are not transferring. Once Bryce announced his plans to transfer, there was no reason for the school to keep these issues quiet. Its somewhat childish, but this sort of stuff happens when a disgruntled player leaves a school; the dirty laundry gets aired for all to see.

    Let's also not forget that Bryce was 18 years old while he was playing at USC. I'm sure everyone on here always react appropriately in difficult situations and made the best decisions when they were 18. He won't be hitting the court for another year and a half, at which time he'll be 20 years old and undoubtedly more mature. Also take into account that most players who transfer, regardless of the issues they have had, usually rein things in a bit because they don't really have an option after that. If they blow it with the second team, its usually off to some junior college to finish off their collegiate careers.

    Even if I did have a huge concern about his attitude and behavior, I don't have a problem with taking a risk on players like this every now and then. Kruger wasn't willing to take a chance on players with "questionable" backgrounds, which is why we've seen Malcom Thomas go to SDSU and play well and Drew Gordon go to UNM and play extremely well. Both of those players were very interested in UNLV, but Kruger and staff wouldn't take a shot because of perceived character issues. How different could things have been with a guy like Drew Gordon in our front court last season? With Bryce Jones, the talent in most certainly there. Maybe it works out and maybe it doesn't, but his skill set definitely makes him worth the risk in my eyes.

  19. Here's the thing Paul G. Stop with the shootblocker crap. We had one with Anthony and we didn't win the championship. Uconn has two of them but that's not why they won the championship, it was walker and lamb that won the championship. Shot blockers are important because the set up runs for players like lamb and kemba but they aren't the most important player so just stop. Last summer nobody was turning down the idea a getting lebron cause they wanted a shotblocker. For the record I hope we can turn our players into shotblockers but I just can't stand listening to Paul G and his shotblocker crap. This is what you sound like Paul, blah blah blah shotblocker.............. Blah shotblocker blah blah .........., blah blah blah shotblocker................................................I am a tard .........shotblocker.

  20. I will say that our Sweet 16 run had a lot more to do with the Coach's Kid running the point than Joel Anthony's presence on defense. That being said, having a really good shot blocker protecting the rim definitely helps make up for screw ups on the offensive end. I do thing Carlos Lopez has the makings of an above average shot blocker and showed some tremendous potential late last season. Hopefully having coaches who actually develop players' skills will lead to big things for Lopez. Given his size and shooting touch, there is a lot there to work with.

  21. Mike Lange, I thought it was made clear that your garbage posts are full of hot air. Man I am getting tired of you pointless posts. Here is a tip: Get a gallon of gasoline, douse your computer with it, and lite that piece of crap(Gateway with Windows 96 I'm sure) on fire and send that thing to hell. That way the world could be saved from your ramblings once again.

  22. LOL. Thanks for that Bobby... I'll see you at the tux fitting.

  23. Thats the LAMEST response Ive ever seen...get a grip kid......Correct....Kruger was a spark plug that year....but kruger doesnt get out of the first round without Anthony on the team that year.....However you could have plugged several of our guards over the years inthere with anthony and had similar success......guards are a dime a dozen......

  24. Look here DJ...Im confused....soooo you dont think thats a priority huh????...You disagree with me....right????? Just keep running a bunch of good guards no interior defense....right????............IF you look at the last two most sucessful teams it included Anthony as well as Keon Clark......Thats no coincidence....as my post said I really like Lopez...glad to have him..b.ut need to pair him with a SHOTBLOCKER.....or a first round win will be all we can hope for........PS.....Uconn doestn get out of the Big east without those TWO SHOTBLOCKERS that Mike referenced......you could have FIVE KEmba Walkers.......

  25. Lopez averaged just under a block a game in less then 12 minutes a game. And he would only play for 3-4 mins at a time which would make it hard to get into a grove. If he played starter minutes and averaged lets say 28 minutes a game it would average out to over 2 blocks a game which would put him at what Thomas did for SDS this year. I think we could all agree he was a good person on the defensive end on the inside. And he is only a freshman. im willing to bet he improves

  26. BJones is an excellent pick up for the Rebs, big men are always nice to have but no way do you tell Jones, "sorry you're not needed". Marshall might not be around for his senior year especially if he breaks out this year, Ant Marz might be NBA bound, the Rebs will need another scorer along side Moser & Ant to help balance the load. I'm pretty sure Rice & staff know the importance of having an inside presence, I have confidence they'll get that figured out. Really all you need is someone manning the paint that elevates a foot above the rim & plays w/no quit that's all you really need. I don't know if Lopez is that guy but he will have to try to be next year.

  27. So Joel Anthony is the reason UNLV beat Georgia Tech in the first round? With his 18 minutes, 0 points, 3 fouls, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks? If anything, Wendell White and Michael Umeh are responsible for carrying Kevin Kruger and Anthony to the 2nd Round. I guess its just a coincidence that the one year Kruger's kid is running the point is the one year in the Kruger era that we actually made a decent run. There's no doubt that Joel Anthony provided much needed energy and defense off the bench, but to decide he was the most integral part of that Sweet 16 team is ridiculous.

    As far as a great shotblocker, yes, it would be great if we could just grab another one, but I think both Thomas and Lopez will be much better in that department next year. You have to take into account that if we play a more traditional lineup next season, there will be more potential for blocked shots because it won't be a bunch of guards and a big guy.

  28. Marshall might be NBA bound? That's a bold claim. I'm a fan, but I think he has a ways to go. You could actually say that about any player if they have a breakout year tho.

  29. The signing of Jones is great news because it keeps the flow of quility talent coming into the program even through this time of transition. As for his off the court issues UNLV is a second chance destination and always has been. Anyone that does not understand that needs to get off the bandwagon. Ryan- Is this O'Brien really worth the effort and have you heard any opinions about him. In addition, is there any clear word on our re-recruitment of Polee?
    As for the "Big Man" issue I think there are valid points on both sides. Guards handle the ball most and therefore are most important especially at the collage level. Defense wins championships and rebounding and shot blocking are a big part of that!! GO REBELS !!

  30. Mike- I know you are not that simplistic....many times a top notch shot blocker is more valuable for the shots that are not even ATTEMPTED....as for the ones he gets stats for blocking....or the shots that are changed......Im not saying Kruger wasnt a factor....was a very good TEAM....But the FACtof the matter...the undisputable fact is that to increase your odds......to be more consistent against top teams, it will START with some serious post defense......AGAIN...I think Lopez is the most talented big man weve had in a long time...huge upside....and seems to be tough...but still not a fore around the rim on defense.....all Im asking for is some legit height, and athleticism that will not create another season where we beat the mid level teams, but cant compete against the bigger better teams come tournament time!!!!

  31. You want simplistic? Here it is. If Joel Anthony was the most important factor as a player on that Sweet 16 team, he would not have spent more than half of an NCAA tournament game on the bench. That's plain, simple and a fact.

    As far as the need for size to take it to the next level, I completely agree. I just think the size we have is good enough. By the end of the last season, Lopez and QT were both pretty consistent contributors down low on offense and defense. QT hadn't played consistently in games for two years prior to that season (barely played at Kansas and then his redshirt year) and Lopez was a redshirt Freshman. Hell, even Massamba made tremendous strides as a defender last season. I'd love to see some high-level big guys end up at UNLV, but we'll have to shed the image that Kruger created of UNLV being "Where big men go to set screens."

  32. I'm sorry did someone on here say Anthony Marshall might leave school early to go to the NBA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow I nearly fell off my chair when I first read that. Hilarious, thanks for the good laugh, I needed that.

  33. Blah blah blah shotblocker........... Blah shotblocker blah blah.............. I like periods...................shotblocker..........................blah blah blah...shotblocker..............I can't compose a comment worth reading anymore........... Blah blah shotblocker blah.

  34. Mike- This years loss on the NCAA tourney I think showed the other teams cutting right through us like hot butter and getting to the rim, did they not? Lopez didnt have a good game with 2 points ZERO blocks.....Q had 9 points.....ZERO blocks....And The Illini werent a huge team........Fact is most of college bball games come down to whome ever is hotter from 3 point land nowadays because most teams DONT have the legit size....the few that do dominate..Kruger knew this years ago and employed the small lineup to be able to GUARD the 3 point line....which wins a lot of games in reg season.......The teams that TRY to go big but dont really get there dont do as well regular season but a little better in the post...Think Wisconsin....UTAH past years.....We have been able to recruit great guards here last few years........Just begging for a legit big man to put us over the top.......

  35. Wow...he still....used....more....periods....

  36. Mike....hahahahaha Just caught the part about Brice improved defense....ahahahahahah L like that kid too....and yeah, he didnt fould as much....but......uhhh no......Not at all the type of interior defneder I was talking about.........Theres differnet ways to go about it...not just pure height....San diego state did it with three rangy athletic types that did a very good job with White, Leonard, malcom whatever his name is, .....

  37. ...........break........... :)

  38. ...............I love attention....................shotblocker........blocked shot...........

  39. wow.. the natives are restless. Turning against each other.

  40. Uhhh yeah......Dipwad apparently wishes to have no COMMENTS on a COMMENT board.......And apparently he wishes the Rebs to play in a 6'4 and under league.......Get a life kid.

  41. I don't quite think everybody understands how good Bryce Jones is or what type of player he is....he's a legit 2 and Done if he stays at USC...we are extremely lucky to get a player of his caliber I can't wait til he hits the court and shocks everybody