UNLV basketball:

Rebels add McDonald’s All-American to their 2013-14 recruiting class

Jelan Kendrick didn’t stick around at Memphis or Ole Miss, but the wing player will get another chance at UNLV next season

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Jelan Kendrick shakes hands with UNLV basketball coach Dave Rice while on an official visit and taking in the Rebels first practice of the season with his dad Lonnie Kendrick Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. Kendrick committed to UNLV on Saturday.

First Runnin' Rebels 2012 Practice

UNLV basketball players Mike Moser and Justin Hawkins give an interview after the Rebels first official practice Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Jelan Kendrick woke up Saturday morning in a state of calm. The comfort of his decision to commit to the UNLV basketball team washed over him the same way glowing neon had the night before.

“The lights get you once you get here,” Kendrick said.

He’ll see a lot more of them next season when he returns to Las Vegas as a member of UNLV’s 2013-14 recruiting class.

A former McDonald’s All-American, Kendrick is an oft-traveled wing who made stops at Memphis and Ole Miss before committing to UNLV. This year he’ll play at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa, and then come to UNLV as a redshirt junior.

Kendrick is in Las Vegas for an official visit and he was at both of UNLV’s first two practices, though he only needed to see the first one to make up his mind. Kendrick said he and his father, Lonnie, who’s on this trip with him, weren’t planning on making a decision while they were in town. Kendrick wanted to go home, plan some other visits and weigh all the positives and negatives.

But from the lights, to the coaches and the players he met while on campus, Kendrick loved everything too much to leave undecided. His commitment broke at about halftime of UNLV’s football game against UNR, back when things were still looking good. If nothing else, this announcement may comfort a lot of broken-hearted Rebels fans.

“It ended up being an easy decision,” Kendrick said. “By this morning I was ready to come here and be a part of the UNLV brand.”

Kendrick, a 6-foot-7 perimeter player, originally committed to Memphis, but he was kicked off the team before ever playing a game. He then transferred to Ole Miss for his redshirt freshman season. Things were going well until, before a game against Alabama, Kendrick went into the stands to grab his girlfriend and then left. He returned to the end of the Ole Miss bench during the first half but didn’t move from his spot. Needless to say, things didn't work out after that.

Those incidents obviously bring up a lot of questions about him, but Kendrick said that’s all in the past and he’s focused on the future. He’s also not worried about proving himself to people who may doubt him because of those previous stops.

“I’m more in competition with proving something to myself than I am with proving something to others,” Kendrick said.

What isn’t in question is his ability. Kendrick seems like a good fit for the up-tempo style UNLV coach Dave Rice is pushing his players toward. Watching that pace in practice, and how the Rebels were helping each other up and not being negative, got Kendrick excited, and he became even more comfortable after talking to the players, who told him what you see is what you get.

“A lot of visits they hype things up and once you get there it’s nothing like you thought it was,” Kendrick said. “Here, nothing seems sugar coated.”

Kendrick is the second commit in the 2013-14 recruiting class and the third overall member. Findlay Prep forward Chris Wood has also made a verbal commitment while Lincoln High guard Dantley Walker signed a letter of intent and will join UNLV next year after finishing his two-year Mormon mission.

That fills up the three spots vacated by seniors Justin Hawkins, Anthony Marshall and Quintrell Thomas, but the team is also treating junior Mike Moser as a senior since he’s expected to declare for the NBA draft. So there’s a scholarship to work with and there could be even more if freshman Anthony Bennett would also declare for the draft, but that’s something the coaching staff will figure out as the season wears on.

For now they know they’re getting a talented kid who believes he has put any past issues behind him. And for whatever he’s been through, Kendrick doesn’t lack for confidence. He knows UNLV is his last chance and he intends to make the most of it.

“I want to come here for one reason only and that’s to win the whole thing,” Kendrick said. “I want to bring the trophy back to Vegas. That’s what I want to do.”

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 dont know about this. like this article says all scholarships are gone unless moser and bennett leave. I thought unlv had other players they were trying to sign straight out of high school. This guy seems to have a character issue.....

  2. UNLV is deep enough to take a shot at someone like this. If he hasn't grown up, they'll be fine without him. But if he finally realizes his potential, he could be another great piece to add to the puzzle.

    This coaching staff is killing it!

  3. SANDIEGOREBEL,

    Since Moser is on pace to graduate and no one expects him to stay they do actually have another scholarship to work with. I have fixed the story to reflect this correction.

    Thank you,

    Taylor

  4. If this kid grows up, then the Rebels have a steal.

  5. Also not so sure about this. Kid sounds like a malcontent. Grabbing his girlfriend in the middle of a game and leaving??? Wow. The way Coach Rice seems to be recruiting top high school talent, do we need a chemistry disaster? Well, hope he can play!

  6. A little bit of hesitation here too, but I guess we should be optimistic. Obviously, the talent is there, if he doesn't collect some rust playing @ the Juco level.

    I wasn't there for the "official visit" but that picture doesn't look warm and fuzzy to me. Maybe I'm a traditionalist, but I stand when I shake someone's hand and I usually dress for the occasion..... again, I wasn't there and maybe this was a more relaxed atmosphere.

    Very excited for Wood and Walker though.

  7. jcom, it was relaxed. Coach Rice had walked over and was chatting with them in the middle of practice and put out his hand to shake before turning his attention back to the players on the floor.

  8. Tark took chances on guys. The program is not dependant upon him so what the heck. Worse case scenario it ends up like a Hamga situation.

  9. He averaged 5.1 points a game last season on an ok Ole Miss team. What's the big deal? He sounds like more trouble than its worth.

  10. with the recruits rice has been bringing in, he must see something in this kid, both on and off the floor...and with this kid knowing this is his last chance, we could see a completely different kid than the one dealing with josh pastner, or with ole miss (including the numbers)...i think rice is fully aware of chemistry...go rebs!

  11. I wouldnt look too mmuch into the 5.1 points per game stat much. Remember Mike Moser coming from UCLA didnt have the most impressive stats as well, and he turned into an All American candidate for us. The kid is a former Mcdonald's all american that has tons of talent. He is versatile, and can play many positions on the basketball floor. The reward is worth the risk on this one. He knows its his last chance to prove to himself and everyone that he is an NBA level type talent. And our style of play will fit his game perfectly.

  12. Why would you waste a scholarship on this guy?! Seems like a dumb move to me....terrible recruiting move.

  13. Tark took on JR Rider, and he was a serious head case until he joined the Rebels, and turned out to be a great player. Rice remembers that, and feels he can do this same with this kid. LJ was a juco transfer as well. Keep the faith. This is the beginning of a dynasty!

  14. After listing to his interview on rebel net i think he was very smart and did not sound like a thug or any other stereotypes. I think his issues were more being a 18 year old with a maturity problem. Its not like his problems were issues like guns or drugs. If he has grown up he will be an asset