Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Rashad Vaughn isn’t open, but still able to score. That's one of the reasons why the Findlay Prep senior guard is a consensus top-10 recruiting prospect.
During a scrimmage at the end of the Pilots' practice last week, Vaughn made all three of his 3-point attempts. One found him all alone in the corner on a kick out. For the other two Vaughn, listed at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, had multiple hands in his face and little room to breathe.
The shots still went in just as smoothly as the wide open one. It’s that shot that has college programs salivating over his services.
“Pure shooting touch,” Pilots coach Jerome Williams said. “He’s got an effortless offensive game.”
Vaughn trimmed his list on Tuesday to seven schools. The Minnesota native is down to UNLV, North Carolina, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Arizona and Minnesota. He dropped Kentucky, Georgetown, UCLA and UConn.
Vaughn has official visits set up to Baylor, Iowa State and UNC. College prospects are allowed five official visits, which are paid for by the universities. While an unofficial trip up the road to Maryland Parkway isn’t out of the question, odds are Vaughn will use one of those remaining officials to bring his parents down to the desert.
“My parents want to see (UNLV),” Vaughn said. “My dad has a good relationship with coach (Dave) Rice.”
Rice and assistant Todd Simon were in Minnesota last week to meet with Vaughn’s parents. Vaughn said relationships are a big factor for him and if his decision comes down to that, UNLV may have a leg up thanks to its newest assistant coach.
Simon started talking to Vaughn when Simon was still Findlay’s head coach and he never really stopped once he joined the Rebels staff in early July. That Findlay connection could be big for many reasons.
Pete Kaffey, Vaughn’s mentor and trainer since about the sixth grade, moved with Vaughn and is now on the Findlay Prep coaching staff. A former high school coach, Kaffey agreed to follow Vaughn wherever the shooting guard decided to play. That decision became easier after watching former Pilot and Rebel Anthony Bennett go No. 1 in June’s NBA Draft.
“We thought, ‘Man, Findlay is doing something over there,’ ” Kaffey said. “That was key.”
A big reason UNLV ended up getting Bennett was the location. It’s a short drive from the Henderson International School to UNLV’s campus and the familiarity makes for an easier college transition.
“I’m comfortable here already; Vegas is like a second home,” Vaughn said. “I knew coach Todd before I even came here.”
Added Kaffey, “(Simon)’s been very instrumental in this whole process.”
One of Vaughn’s dreams, he said, is to get drafted after only one collegiate season. Bennett’s success certainly helps UNLV’s case in that regard, as does the Rebels’ recent track record of getting to the NCAA tournament and playing freshmen.
“Being able to play right away and on a team with some players around him is big,” Kaffey said.
As the recruiting process plays out, Williams, Kaffey and the rest of the Pilots staff will focus on Vaughn’s academics and expanding his game to develop on defense. And Williams, who first worked with Vaughn at this summer’s LeBron James Skills Academy, has already christened Vaughn Vo-Show, because when he’s on, it’s his show.
“He’s starting his brand now because he’s learning how to stay intense and building his stamina,” Williams said. “With his talent, the sky’s the limit.”
Locals hope Vaughn decides to expand his brand next year at UNLV, because every team could use a player who doesn’t even need to be open.