Rebels basketball:

Mississippi juco guard becomes fifth member of UNLV’s incoming class

DeVille Smith, who started his career at Mississippi State, will come in as a junior and compete at point guard

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV and Fresno State stand for the national anthem before their game Saturday, March 9, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Fresno State upset UNLV 61-52.

UNLV vs. Fresno State: March 9, 2013

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall waits to congratulate Fresno State after their game Saturday, March 9, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Fresno State, a 14-point underdog, upset UNLV 61-52. Launch slideshow »

DeVille Smith said at halftime of Saturday’s UNLV game that the Rebels were a clear favorite for him. Apparently the rest of the 61-52 loss to Fresno State didn’t do anything to change his mind, as the 6-foot junior college point guard out of Mississippi committed to UNLV this weekend.

“I love this atmosphere,” said Smith, who was also considering other schools like Baylor, West Virginia and NC State.

Rebel-Net was the first to report the news.

Smith will come in as a junior and immediately provide experience at point guard, where the Rebels should have a healthy competition next year. Along with returners Katin Reinhardt and Daquan Cook, the Rebels are bringing in freshman Kendall Smith and juco transfer Jelan Kendrick. Kendall Smith is more of a combo guard; Kendrick, a 6-foot-7 former Memphis and Ole Miss player who was at Indiana Hills Community College in Iowa this season, can play point or on the wing. Reinhardt struggled at times with the point this season and could remain primarily a shooting guard.

With so many guys along the perimeter, it’s possible Cook or incoming guard Dantley Walker, who committed two years ago before going on a Mormon mission, could take redshirts. That was originally the plan for Cook this season.

DeVille Smith is the fifth member of the incoming class, which also includes Findlay Prep forward Chris Wood. If Anthony Bennett and Mike Moser leave, that would put the Rebels at 13 scholarships in 2013-14. It’s possible the Rebels could be down a scholarship if redshirt junior Carlos Lopez-Sosa decides to graduate or transfer elsewhere, but nothing has been decided on that.

DeVille Smith came out of high school in Jackson, Miss., as a four-star recruit, ranked by Rivals as the 17th-best point guard in the class of 2011. He committed to Mississippi State and in 26 games as a freshman averaged 4.2 points, 1.9 assists and 1.6 rebounds per game. His assist-to-turnover ratio was 1.3.

DeVille Smith missed some games that year because of headaches and dizziness, according to the Clarion-Ledger, although that’s not what led to his departure. At the end of the year, Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury retired, so DeVille Smith went looking for a better fit.

Instead of transferring to another Division I school and sitting out a year, he went to Southwest Mississippi Community College, where his season ended Wednesday with a one-point overtime loss in the NJCAA Region 23 tournament. DeVille Smith scored a game-high 24 points in the loss.

DeVille Smith said he likes to run, a common refrain from UNLV commits. Although the Rebels’ on-court play hasn’t yet consistently matched the style they’re selling, DeVille Smith likes his chance to change that.

“They said I’m the type of guy they were looking for,” he said.

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

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  1. This is a nice pickup for the Rebels. I've seen tape of him at Mississippi State, and he fits exactly what UNLV wants to do. He's got great athleticism and quickness, and he's got the playmaking ability. I definitely see the Rebels pushing the tempo next season.

  2. Agreed. This looks good on paper. Hopefully, he fits in and can contribute on the team.

  3. Great ... An out of control speedster with no jumper

  4. "Great ... An out of control speedster with no jumper" -RebelJedi

    What are you talking about? The kid averaged 16 ppg, 5 assists and 2 steals per game this Juco season.. not to mention 49% shooting from the field and 39% from beyond the arc...

    Stop being lazy and do some research before you open your mouth and bash the kid.

  5. Not to mention nearly a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. Sounds incredibly reckless.

  6. We definitely are in need of a solid point guard to take over for AM. Not sure what this says of Coach Rice's faith in Cook but between D. Smith, Kendrick, Walker and Cook that should be some healthy competition at the point to find out who the next guy is. I am a little concerned that Coach Rice is not addressing our inside presence enough. If we do indeed lose Bennnett(probably a 95 percent chance)and in losing QT we lose alot of bulk underneath. With guys like Khem Birch, Savon Goodman, Roscoe Smith, Chris Wood. Lopez-Sosa(assuming he stays)and Demetris Morant we have some good athleticism but no true bangers. We are very likely to get pushed around alot under the basket. That is unless Coach Rice really does decide to "Run as One" and we full court press, trap and speed the game up where our athletes can get out and make the other bigs play full court as well. However, I do not have much faith that he will ever do that.

  7. @gumby2323 - Coach Rice has said that future teams will press and play a full court game. Also, you don't need a banger in college. Indiana doesn't have a bulky guy in the post, and they're still a top 5 team.

  8. Good pickup, but can we win an NCAA tourney game first.

  9. Phillips - No, you are correct, you do not have to have a banger but it sure is nice to have when you are going up against physical teams like CSU and New Mexico. I know that Coach Rice has said that the Rebs will play a full court style. He has said alot of things. So far Coach is very good at saying all the right things. Unfortunately most of what he says has been all talk and very little action. We are averaging 65 ppg in conference. That is absolutely pathetic. What on this team makes Coach Rice not want to press and run now? What exactly is he waiting for? He is like many other coaches who promise an "uptempo" style and then do not seem to have any clue on how to do it. I will believe it when I see it.

  10. gumby2323 - That's fair enough. I think that is one of the reasons Rice is focusing on bringing in a bunch of guards who can handle the ball, and, if needed, run the point. He doesn't want to get stuck in the situation he was in this year where the best option was a 3-year SG turned PG. I think we saw in the Fresno game that AM wore down at the end. I think it shows how valuable even that 2-4 minutes Cook gives can be as far as keeping AM fresh. PG is the most important position in college basketball and it's better to have multiple options.

    And even though this has been beaten to death, AM is in his first year playing the point. While I think he has done a great job under the circumstances, he is still not a "real" PG and I think he could have put up Player of the Year type numbers if he had been able to play the full year at the SG spot.

    I do agree that it is nice to have a player who will get in there and bang when necessary. Of course, simply being big isn't enough (AB). I will say that I think Savon, while a tad undersized, can help fill that role next year. Sure wish he would have gotten more floor time this year.

  11. Mike - I have heard the true point guard reasoning as to why we cannot run and it simply is not a valid argument. In fact if you do not have a true point guard, pressing and running is ideal. You create more possesions and getting steals off of turnovers in the full court, many times the point guard does not even touch the ball. The true point guard is needed more in the half court game knowing how to run plays and get the ball to players in positions they can best use it. A true full court pressing and running team needs long rangy athletes with quickness and finishing ability. We have a multitude of players from 6'3"-6'9", athletic, quick, good leapers, and excellent finishers in transition. We go 10-11 deep and we do not play in the half court very effectively. Not sure why Coach Rice needs to wait to implement this full court game. He either has no intentions to do so, or simply does not know how to teach it.

  12. Everything Gumby just said- and we also have a great shot blocker (Birch) to anchor in the lane. Rice is clueless. I think he is just one of those guys who is a great assistant but is not head coach material- at least not yet.

  13. 49 wins (and counting) in his first 2 years as a head coach. I think it's too early to make a judgment either way on the type of head coach Dave Rice will become. I'm glad you threw that "at least not yet" qualifier in there AJ. I think he will become a great head coach, but there's obviously areas where there needs to be improvement.

    I agree we should be running a lot better than we are. I would also say that given the way this team often looks so bad on fast break opportunities, it's probably not a bad thing that we're not. The chemistry/teamwork issues that plagued this team during the 4-4 stretch in conference play showed up again Saturday against Fresno and we paid the price.

  14. I am not calling for Coach Rice's head by any means. You are absolutely correct that his numbers so far are very acceptable. He is also in only his second year as a head coach and no matter how many years that you spend as an assistant there is no substitute for experience in running your own program. I am just getting a little tired of hearing all of the talk and the promises to the fans about what the Rebels will be. So far this year the Rebels are averaging less points per game than Coach Kruger's teams in conference play from 2006-2011. Even the '08-'09 team that had a couple of 40 point performances in conference averaged 2 ppg more than this team with infinitely more talent and athleticism. Coach Rice said in his opening press conference that winning was 1a and style of play was 1b. So far this year with a roster full of talent and athleticism his teams are running and scoring less than Kruger's teams. Something I personally did not think was possible. I can understand if you have a roster full of Joe Dargers or Brice Massambas that you feel you have to slow it down to beat teams but the fact is he has the opposite. Guess I am just going to have to live with the fact that we are the Walking Rebels and go throw in a dvd of the UNLV Loyola Marymount Elite Eight game of 1990 to feel better.

  15. @gumby2323 - You can't press when you can only depend on one guy at point guard. The Rebels' opponents quickly eat away at the lead when Marshall is off the floor. Anthony Marshall essentially has to play the whole game because the Rebels don't have depth at point guard.

  16. Philips - Point taken. You are absolutely correct that AM does need to be on the floor for us to be successful for any length of time.

  17. That's precisely why I think Rice is bringing in so many guards in this recruiting class. They aren't all PGs, but rather they all have the ability to play the point if need be. I completely agree that we need to be more of a pressing, pressure team on defense, but we didn't necessarily have the guard depth to do it. And as was pointed out, while I do think Cook did an OK job filling in for spot minutes to give AM a rest, AM needs to be on the floor for the bulk of the game.

  18. Despite the PR campaign, we do not run because we dont have the personnel & we dont know HOW TO run an efficient transition game. Emphasis on the word "efficient." Seriously, how many times have we created a turnover & then squandered possession in transition trying to run? At least 4 or 5 times per game. That number would probably be worse if we extended & forced tempo. Thus, I fail to see the advantage of doing it. I would venture to guess that 60% of our turnovers are unforced & in transition.

    Moser & Katin are the only ones who are comfortable pushing the ball but their decision making & ball security are notoriously weak. They are both repeatedly guilty of what Rice calls "trying to make a home run" instead of the simple play. BDJ, Bennett, Hawkins, & DQ cant be trusted either for a bevy of reasons. Marshall is exceptional passing in the half court but is insecure & indecisive in transition. His first instinct is to stop...not go...and he NEVER gets the ball into the middle of the floor either. That is no slight on him, its just not a strength of his game. Oscar was a helluva PG & a ball security LOCK...but he wasnt comfortable pushing the ball either.

    I think Rice has absolutely made the right call in putting the brakes on this team & playing to Marshall's strengths instead of forcing tempo. The bottom line is we are a better team with him on the floor. Period. And with our lack of decision makers out there, risking Marshall into foul trouble (he plays physical defense & likes to reach) every night by extending to force tempo isnt worth the risk to our half court execution & turnover margin. Besides, good guards punish teams that extend & to win in March you have to be able to execute in the half court.

    Bottom line: If we really want to run...we cant sign enough of these guys. They dont need to be a dead eye shooter...they just need handles, good decision making in the open floor, & can finish at the rim. Then we can be who Rice says he wants us to be. Until then, I'm cool with walking it up, running when we can, & winning.

  19. @djonian81 - Rice's guys can run, but Kruger's guys can't with the exception of Moser. I think to play up tempo, everybody has to be on the same page. Also, Rice's guys needed this year to get acclimated to his system.

    I agree with you in that Rice probably put the brakes on the up tempo because this year's team isn't quite there yet personnel wise.

    I think you start to see the Runnin' Rebels next year. I expect Deville Smith to start at point guard. Look him up on Youtube. He excels in an up and down game. He's also a true point guard. Jelan Kendrick played point at Indian Hills, and he was known for his vision coming out of high school. Katin Reinhardt will look substantially better next year in my opinion. I think this year will help him tremendously going forward. I think the same can be said of BDJ. At a minimum, they should have solid ball handlers at the 1-3. I don't know enough about Roscoe Smith or Christian Wood. However, Dave Rice has said that Wood can get a rebound and start a fast break like Mike Moser.

    I'm going to enjoy the rest of this season and then look forward to next season.

  20. C'mon Phillips give it up ,are you that blind that you can't see the heartache down the road?
    Quit making excuses for the poorly run basketball program that used to be the Runnin Rebels. It doesn't matter who they pick up the results will be the same due to the coaching.

  21. Finally someone tells it right,, Rice put the brakes on the team ,and they locked up ,slid sideways and hit a wall.

  22. @fedup2here (Kenny Rogers) - You gotta love the wannabe coach Kenny Rogers. Why don't you become a head coach at the D-I level?