Rebels basketball:

Rice expects UNLV assistant to head back to Mountain West rival

Justin Hutson is reportedly close to returning to his old position at San Diego State

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV coach Justin Hutson talks to forward Khem Birch during their game against Boise State Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 68-64.

Updated Friday, April 12, 2013 | 5:20 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

UNLV assistant basketball coach Justin Hutson takes a phone call while watching the USA Olympic basketball team practice Friday, July 6, 2012 at UNLV's Mendenhall Center.

UNLV associate head coach Justin Hutson is likely heading back to San Diego State, according to UNLV coach Dave Rice.

The U-T San Diego reported Friday afternoon that Hutson could finalize a deal by next week to return to the place where he spent five seasons before leaving for UNLV in 2011. Rice commented on the situation later Friday evening, saying he’s operating on the assumption Hutson is gone.

“Justin did a great job of helping us build the foundation of our program, we’re very confident moving forward,” Rice said. “Justin’s a friend and we wish him the best.”

Hutson would replace Tony Bland, who had originally replaced Hutson. Bland recently left to become the associate head coach at USC under Andy Enfield.

Hutson came to UNLV for a better title in what everyone figured was a springboard to his first head-coaching job. Hutson was recently a finalist for the head position at Cal State Fullerton, but that job went to Arizona State associate head coach Dedrique Taylor.

Rice’s staff had stayed intact for two years up to this point, although there were other close calls. Last year, Stacey Augmon turned down an opportunity to join the Charlotte Bobcats staff, and last week Heath Schroyer turned down an offer from new UCLA coach Steve Alford.

Hutson wouldn’t keep the same associate head coach title at SDSU because Brian Dutcher is the head-coach-in-waiting under coach Steve Fisher. Hutson would be the next in line, though, so if Fisher retires, it would likely put Hutson in the same approximate position he’s currently in, just with SDSU instead of UNLV.

Rice, who’s traveling to Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Saturday to speak at a Nike coaches clinic, said he doesn’t yet have a timetable for replacing Hutson.

Bennett taking classes online

After making a tearful goodbye to UNLV, freshman Anthony Bennett returned to Canada to begin preparations for the NBA Draft. He can do that because Bennett is taking mostly online classes this semester.

Bennett will return for some in-person tests, but most of his classes will be completed online, which he can obviously do from anywhere. This is important because if Bennett doesn’t complete his courses, it could negatively impact UNLV’s academic progress rate, which would penalize the university.

Morant out 4-6 weeks with broken finger

On Wednesday, freshman Demetris Morant broke the middle finger on his right hand while grabbing the ball during a game of pickup. He had successful surgery Friday morning, which included putting a pin in his finger.

He’s expected to make a full recovery by about mid May.

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

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  1. It will be interesting to see who they hire as a replacement. It would be nice to see Rice bring in somebody who knows how to run a full court press since that's what they want to do next year.

  2. One down , one to go.

  3. @fedup2here (Kenny Rogers) - Are you saying that Justin Hutson was a lousy assistant?

  4. So if he isn't getting the Associate HC title then what is his incentive for leaving UNLV? More money or is there some type of turmoil going on???

  5. More money and his family liked living in San Diego

  6. While the NCAA is dreaming up more rules for the college sports programs to violate so they can keep being supreme powers of sports they need to dig their head out of the sand and address the problem of student athletes going to a college on a scholarship play one or two seasons and then go pro. The NCAA professes they are the keepers of non paid athletes when in turn they finance it. A player should be mandated to attend at least 2 years of college have a passing GPA. The Agents for these players who sulk in the background and claim they have nothing to do with them while in college should be made to re reimburse along with the player the cost occurred to the college if they leave early. The NCAA would not do this because they do not want to see another dominate program built like Tark the Shark did at UNLV it scared the crap out of the old guard of the NCAA.

  7. Was this the ace recruiter we had? And who is going to replace him?

  8. @mitmo52 - Almost everybody can be replaced. I'm not really worried.

  9. Hey, I have an idea....let's replace all of the coaches while we're at it?

  10. Yup thats what I'm saying , in fact the whole staff is lousy including Augman. Hows that fer ya?.

  11. @Sinatra711 (Anthony Sinatra) - Lets replace all of the haters while we're at it. You all know who you are.

  12. Rice would be doing himself a favor (that previous and current UNLV Football Coaches have failed to do) by hiring Coaches that can solve problems that the team had last year. There was no involvement from the Assistant Coaches during time outs, while other Assistant Coaches will stand up and yell instructions during big games (note Dave Rice did this at BYU) this staff did not do this. This team had no solutions playing half court basketball. Defense was lost many times. No adjustments were made from the New Mexico Championship Game loss - where the Rebels struggled in the half court and took many bad shots going one on one. Stacey must be a solid practice coach helping one on one with players - which is his role would be in the NBA. Heath - no idea why they didnt let him go to UCLA. If you look at Gonzaga - they hire former Head Coaches who have had success. While it would be great to get Peck or if Reggie Theus would be on the bench - these type of Assistant Coaches would be a BIG improvement and would help Rice grow as a Coach. He does not have those experienced WINNING bench Coaches right now. Florida has them. Duke has them. Louisville has them. North Carolina has them. Tark hired Ron Adams from Fresno State, he knew defense and brought the ameba defense to UNLV. That helped UNLV become National Champions. Time for Rice to look in the mirror and see that he needs Coaching help big time - as it showed this year - no matter all of the talent he had, if they do not execute offensive and defensive sets - they lose. Give Bill Carmody (Northwestern former Head Coach) a call and get him on the bench. He would be much better than Heath and would be a big help for Rice.

  13. @kirkland - Bill Carmody couldn't even make the NCAA Tournament at Northwestern. They're the only power conference team to have never made the NCAA Tournament.

  14. Is Coach Grgurich available? They need a conditioning and defense expert.

    @kirkland- are you serious? it seemed like the Shirt Schroyer was running the team at times. If you ask me, Rice relies to heavily on Schroyer, but this is just what I see during games.

  15. I agree with liljoe on Grgurich, he can flat coach D and conditioning. Augmon really should be able to be that guy too. CDR was there as a player too when the Rebels peaked. I guess that is why I get frustrated because I expect the old rebel days. It seemed like Tark had a good formula but maybe it is an outdated way to play but Shaka seems to pull it off. Anyway the new guy needs to be a great California recruiter too. Good luck Rebels. PS is Dantely Walker going to get any run?

  16. Kirkland - You seem to have your facts mixed up. Tim Grgurich brought the idea for the amoeba from Pittsburgh when he came in the early 80's to UNLV. They however did not use it as their primary defense. Ron Adams came to UNLV in the 1990-91 season after they won the national championship. If we are wishing lets go get Paul Westhead from Oregon so we can learn to run again!

  17. What is the sense of doing all of this so called teaching only to have the players walk away to the NBA. Each year most successful teams lose their top players who enter the NBA early. Look at Bennett this year one year and done he as suppose to be a player to center the team around for the next 3 years. How many programs get used because they get big TV time and the players leave from them look at Syracuse they are just a farm team for the NBA Michigan is another. I doubt you will ever see another basketball program in college ever keep it's top players and make a 3 to 4 year run as national champions. The NCAA needs to fix the problem and then players and coaches will commit to a program. Sorry all Rebel fans the old way Tark Days are over because you can not put all of the pieces of the puzzle together at once.So plan on if this happens a one successful year and done and many college programs live this sentence.

  18. @irishspy (barry regan) - Rick Pitino has done a good job of recruiting guys who will stay. So has Krzyzewski. I can't think of one player in the NBA under 30 who played college basketball at Michigan. Who has even been drafted from Michigan since Tractor Taylor?

  19. Stupid move by Huston IMO. @phillips1990702 Darius Morris got drafted in 2011.

  20. @YE - One player being drafted from a school in a ten year period hardly makes them a farm team for the NBA.