Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011 | 2 a.m.
- UNLV Recruiting Notebook: Updates on Johnson, Allen and Carter (9-27-2011)
- Gorman’s Demetris Morant becomes first 2012 local to commit to UNLV (8-29-2011)
- Katin Reinhardt commits to UNLV, making major statement for Dave Rice and staff (8-11-2011)
- A Day in the Life: On the recruiting trail with UNLV coach Dave Rice (7-26-2011)
- Baltimore PG Daquan Cook becomes UNLV’s first 2012 hoops commit (7-21-2011)
- All UNLV Men's Basketball Coverage
To the 500-plus UNLV fans who showed up to watch 2012 commit Katin Reinhardt play Wednesday night at Bishop Gorman, it didn't matter whether his potential game-winning 26-footer in the final seconds fell or not.
They'd already bonded with him long ago.
Reinhardt was one of several top prep talents to grab some of the spotlight in the nightcap at the Fullcourt Press Las Vegas Showcase, which had the 2011-12 Findlay Prep squad facing off against a Best of Las Vegas team that featured local standouts along with Reinhardt, who flew in from California for the night.
After leading by more than 20 points in the first half, Findlay Prep held on for an 81-80 victory in what gradually turned from an exhibition game into a hotly-contested battle by late in the game.
The Mater Dei standout not only scored a team-high 24 points, but he stole the show when it came to playing to the crowd, which was peppered with plenty of Rebel scarlet.
It was mid-way through the second half, as Reinhardt and Gorman senior forward Ben Carter were leading the Best of Las Vegas team's charge back from the double-digit deficit, when the 6-foot-4 guard began pouring in shot after shot.
After the last make in a run of deep looks, he turned to the stands and lifted up his jersey, revealing a UNLV T-shirt which sent hundreds into a frenzy.
"Once I started making a few shots, I lifted the shirt up to get the crowd pumped up," he said with a smile. "It got us back into the game, I thought.
"As soon as we got going a little bit, within two or three, it started getting really hyped in here. It was like a high school game."
Findlay dropped in a pair of buckets in transition to set the stage for Reinhardt in the clutch.
He brought the ball up with 20 seconds left and his team down one. Facing a tough defender in front of him in former UNLV commit Nigel Williams-Goss, he pulled up for the deep look, but just missed a shot that would have sent the entire gym into a complete frenzy.
"I felt that my shot was on today, so that's why I shot it," he said. "Usually, I make that. I practice it every day. I thought I pulled my hand back a bit. If I followed through, I would have made it for sure."
Reinhardt's 24 points came on a night where he was quite trigger-happy with his shot, but he also displayed the entire package that makes him the nation's No. 45 recruit in the 2012 class, according to Rivals.com. He showed off his slick handles and buried several jumpers in defenders' faces off of a variety of crossover moves.
He was hardly alone in standing out, though.
Carter, who is taking an official visit to UNLV along with Reinhardt on Oct. 14 and 15, did most of his offensive damage in the second half en route to 22 points. He showed off a variety of post moves while also connecting on several mid-range jumpers.
Also standing out for the local squad was Desert Pines junior Julian Jacobs, who took charge offensively late in the game and finished with 15 points.
On the Findlay Prep side, the Pilots were facing a real opponent for the first time with an overhauled roster that features more size than ever before in the program's four-year history.
No one stood out quite as much as 6-foot-8 senior forward Anthony Bennett, whose monster summer on the AAU circuit propelled him to Top-10 status in every scouting service's 2012 class rankings.
It wasn't just Bennett's flashy orange Nikes that got him noticed, either. He set the tone early with a series of vicious dunks that sent eerie silences over the crowd.
Bennett's combination of strength, size and athleticism commanded the attention of everyone in the gym, and it's likely that will be the case just about everywhere he plays this season with the Pilots.
Bennett, whose list of nine potential suitors includes UNLV, won't chose his college destination until the spring signing period, but he should only continue to surge as the season wears on now that he's moved on from a series of nagging injuries that slowed his junior season to a crawl at times. At various times, he dealt with knee, ankle and back issues that also caused him to have trouble keeping his weight down.
He's dropped more than 10 pounds from the 245-pound frame he finished last season with.
"Last year, they told me the heavier you get, the more injuries you'll get," he said. "I'm just happy to be back, because last year was a tough year for me. Now, I'm healthy, I'm back and I want to prove to everyone what I can do."
Fellow UNLV recruiting target Matt Willms — a 7-foot Canadian senior who is new to the program this season — scored 18 points for the Pilots.
Two notable absences from the final game of the night were Gorman seniors Shabazz Muhammad — the unanimous top player in the 2012 recruiting class — and Rosco Allen. Muhammad was nursing a nagging ankle injury suffered late in the summer. Allen didn't play due to an issue involving scar tissue near his eyes that has prevented him from being able to wear his contact lenses of late. He's taking medication for the problem and should be able to go full-speed again by Oct. 10.