REBELS BASKETBALL:

UNLV notebook: Transfer Bryce Jones adjusting quickly on and off the floor

USC transfer plans on getting in all the work he can both during and after practices

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Leila Navidi

UNLV sophomore guard Bryce Jones, left, works against sophomore forward Karam Mashour during the first team workout of the fall on the UNLV campus Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011.

Rebels Fan Fest

Chace Stanback waves to the crowd during the Rebel Fan Fest Friday, October 14, 2011 at the Fremont Street Experience. Launch slideshow »

UNLV basketball swings into season

KSNV coverage of the Rebel basketball team ushering in new season with a few old traditions, Oct. 14, 2011.

Long after everyone else had left the floor following UNLV's first official practice of the 2011-12 men's basketball season, Bryce Jones was still going at it.

The USC transfer, who is redshirting this season per NCAA rules, is expecting this to be the routine. During the Rebels' two-hour practices, he'll give as much as he can as a member of the scout team, then get some more individual work in at the end.

"These are my games," he said. "That's how I approach them. I come out here and play them like games, try to get the guys ready for the season."

Jones spent roughly an hour on the floor after Saturday's afternoon session, working one-on-one with assistant coach Stacey Augmon for the final 20 minutes.

"I've noticed his drive," Augmon said. "He's always there, willing to work, willing to do what it takes to make this team better. It takes a big person to come and practice, not actually play (in games). It's going to be hard on him, but we'll continue to work with him and he's going to keep a positive attitude. When he goes, it makes our team better."

Even before the start of official practices, when the staff was able to work with the team for only two hours a week, Jones looked like a guy preparing to have a prominent role on the floor this season.

Many wish that actually was the case, as the 6-foot-5 swingman has shown the elite-level talent that made him a Top-100 recruit coming out of Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft High two years ago. He's played in every drill so far with a visibly competitive attitude, treating his teammates like true opponents while the ball is live.

Jones started the season's first 10 games as a Trojan last season, averaging 28.1 minutes and 11.2 points per game during that stretch. After highly touted Fordham transfer Jio Fontan became eligible after the fall semester, he became a reserve and averaged only 11.1 minutes per game over the next eight contests before opting to transfer in January.

From the looks of it, Jones has the potential to be a star within UNLV's uptempo system that first-year head coach Dave Rice is installing. So far, he's shown off elite-level athleticism with an ability to defend any position on the perimeter and score in a variety of ways. He's already showcased some impressive ability above the rim that has created quite a buzz around him.

He was in need of a fresh start, as following his transfer, stories of a locker room altercation with teammate Garrett Jackson and another run-in with a resident adviser in his dorm were leaked to the local media. Jones owned up to the incidents and provided his sides of the stories, though it was clear that he was simply in need of a fresh start.

Helping with the transition for Jones has been a deep and strong support system that goes beyond just his coaches and teammates.

Walt DeJean, who has worked with Jones on his game for years, would spend hours working out in the gym last season with Bryce after practices at USC when he was just six miles from campus. DeJean was on hand Saturday, and said he plans on making the short drive up from Los Angeles as much as possible this season. Also, Jones has long-time family friends to lean on in the family of top 2012 recruit Shabazz Muhammad, who is about to begin his highly anticipated senior season at Bishop Gorman.

"It's a blessing in disguise," DeJeans said. "When Bryce came out of high school, he was 17 years old. Bryce was young. This gives him an extra year to mature and gives him some time to learn the system.

"He got a chance to come to a better place. The staff here has really engaged with him. Coach Rice is doing all he can to keep him engaged in practice. They're giving him the support he needs."

Visitors in attendance

Saturday's afternoon practice at the Cox Pavilion auxiliary gym was attended by roughly 50 UNLV fans, while a handful of recruits sat on the other end of the gym.

Among them were two of UNLV's three 2012 commits — California combo guard Katin Reinhardt and Gorman power forward Demetris Morant. Reinhardt was in town with his father, Ernie, for his official visit, and the two headed back home not long after the practice ended.

Reinhardt tweeted upon his departure: "Got a few more hours left till I'm home … Thanx Vegas for makin me feel like this is a home to me!"

Also in attendance was 7-foot Findlay Prep senior center Matt Willms and 6-foot-11 Gorman freshman center Stephen Zimmerman, who already has scholarship offers from UNLV and a handful of other schools, including Kansas, UConn and UCLA.

Two walk-ons added

Dave Rice added a pair of walk-ons to the end of his bench in time for the start of practices.

One is Wade Norman, a freshman guard who attended Faith Lutheran High in Las Vegas and was at UNLV as a freshman undergraduate student a year ago. He is the younger brother of Tyler Norman, who was a walk-on guard for UNLV the past two seasons.

Also on the roster now is Barry Cheaney. He's a true freshman guard from Los Osos High in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. While there, he played in the same backcourt two years ago with current New Mexico sophomore guard Kendall Williams.

The duo joins another local — 6-foot-11 Coronado High grad Bryan Glenn — on the scout team. Mark Valencia, who last month joined Glenn as a fellow walk-on, is no longer on the team, but is still attending classes at UNLV.

Scrimmage on top

UNLV's "Runnin' Rebel Weekend" concludes Sunday evening with a 6 p.m. scrimmage at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Doors for the event open at 5:30 p.m., and admission is free.

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  1. Just watched Brice jones at the scrimmage. He is going to be a great addition to the team. Wish he could play now.