Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 | 5:53 p.m.
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“Both told me today when we met that they wanted to do this,” said Rice, who added he’ll never force a guy to redshirt, just recommend it.
Morant had been expected to sit out this season because of the depth in UNLV’s front court. With Mike Moser, Anthony Bennett, Carlos Lopez-Sosa, Quintrell Thomas and eventually Khem Birch ahead of him, Morant was unlikely to play much, if at all, this season.
“As hard as he works, he’s going to be a terrific player for us,” Rice said.
The surprise is Cook, 17, who didn’t figure to get much playing time this year but would have provided a security blanket should the Rebels need another body. UNLV will enter the season with just nine eligible scholarship players.
“That was a hard decision to make because Daquan has improved as much as anyone since he got here,” Rice said. “He would play minutes for us this year, but he’ll play more minutes as a fifth-year senior than a freshman. … He needs to get older and stronger; everything else will come.”
There’s a chance things could change for Cook this year, although it requires a scenario Rice was hesitant to discuss.
“If we would have a significant injury along the perimeter in the first eight to 10 games, we may pull his redshirt,” Rice said, “but once we get halfway through the year I’m not going to do that to a kid."
The Rebels will have 10 scholarship players once Birch, a sophomore, becomes eligible in December. Bishop Gorman’s Morant and Cook, a point guard from Baltimore, will start next season with four years of eligibility.