New Look Rebels Host Jags To Open Season
Las Vegas, NV
The UNLV Runnin Rebels open the 2022-23 campaign with a familiar foe, sort of. The Rebels open this season with the same team they opened last season against, the Southern Jaguars. The Jags will be led by first year coach Kevin Johnson who played for UNLV coach Kevin Kruger’s father at Texas Pan American, (now known as Texas Rio Grande). While it will be the season opener for the Rebels, the Jags are coming off their lid lifter against TCU, a game in which they gave up 61% field goal shooting. The Jags were led by senior guard Brandon Davis who finished with a team high 20 points.
The Rebels will be making their season debut with a retooled rosters from the one that opened against the Jaguars a year ago. Gone are Elijah Parquet, Keshon Gilbert, David Muoka, and EJ Harkless, all who started the season opener last season. Harkless, a Mountain West Second Team Selection was the team’s leading scorer, averaging 19 points per game. This Rebels will have returners Justin Webster, Isaiah Cottrell, Shane Nowell and Luis Rodriguez. The latter, started the opener against Southern last year.
This year’s team received an infusion of talent from both the transfer portal and the high school ranks. According to Sports Nation the Rebels had the #4 ranked recruiting class in the Mountain West, and that was before the reclassification of Dedan Thomas, one of the nation’s top PG’s. UNLV hit the portal hard again, attracting former Clark HS star, Jalen Hill back home after 3 seasons at Oklahoma. In addition to Hill and Thomas, the Rebels’ landed the Boone twins, Kalib and Keylan, from Pacific and Oklahoma St respectively.
UNLV will look to improve off a 19-13 2022-23 campaign, a season which saw them jump out to 10 straight wins and victories in 11 out of their first 12 games. The Rebels will be led by coach Kevin Kruger, who has gone 37 – 27 in his first two season’s at the helm. He has preached defense during his time as Rebel Head Coach, as UNLV has been among the Mountain West’s best at forcing turnovers.
The Southern game will be the first of two home contest to open the season, as the Rebels take on Stetson at the Thomas and Mack on Saturday before heading out on the road to face Pepperdine in Malibu and then Florida St in Daytona Beach for the Sunshine Slam.
Bruce Williams is an NCAA Certified Scout who covers basketball in Nevada.
He is a UNLV Insider for the Runnin Rebel Report.