Rebels quick hits:

UNLV freshmen Morant and Cook will redshirt this season

Sitting both guys gives the Rebels just nine eligible scholarship players to start the season

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV guards Bryce Dejean-Jones, left, and Daquan Cook force Dixie State guard Landon Littlefield into a turnover during their exhibition game Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack.

In a bit of a surprise, UNLV freshmen Demetris Morant and Daquan Cook will redshirt this season, Rebels coach Dave Rice said Saturday night.

“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.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. I'm not surprised about Morant, but I am surprised about Cook.

  2. I am not surprised by either one. Cook looked and saw that he was the 5th guard. I like his thought process. I hope as a PG he continues to make smart decisions.

  3. A little disappointed that Cook will redshirt as he is the only true point guard on the roster. Would be nice to have him get a little experience this year as next year we will most likely have two freshman point guards in Walker and Cook. Certainly can't blame him for this decision however. Looks to be a four guard rotation with Daquan on the outside. 9 players with Khem being eligible at semester should be plenty. Runnin' Rebels!

  4. I'm a little concerned that Morant will be a 21 year old freshman. That's really old.

  5. I'm predicting cook transfers........

  6. Between Reinhardt and Bryce jones in the back court the next three years there isn't much and to be a 6 th man type you need a versatile body...cook is small..and I am willing to bet we sign a big time guard fairly regularly from here on out.......