Saturday, April 14, 2012

Coming full circle on recruiting: Update on Dantley Walker, as well as the news of the past week

Taking a break from the three part series previewing the roster of 2012-13, there is much to talk about as well as summarize that occurred on the recruiting front. Before discussing that which many of you already know, let’s get an update on Dantley Walker, future member of the Rebels for the 2013-14 year.

Dantley Walker Update

Dantley Walker: Man on a mission

For those of you familiar, Dantley Walker – prolific scorer from Panaca, NV committed to the Rebels, but as a Mormon he elected to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This delays his arrival at UNLV as a freshman two years. I had the opportunity to interview his father/assistant coach Greg Walker last year, and get updates from time to time. The information we had previously, was that his mission was to be in Spokane, Washington – and he was fortunate to get an early start so that he didn’t have to begin his colligate career, then leave and come back to it two years later. He was clearly excited to go on the mission, and to be a Rebel.

Since we’ve last updated, Dantley Walker has been on his mission for nine months now, and is doing very well. He loves serving the call of the mission, but obviously misses competitive basketball very much. He served the first five months in Cordeau-d'lene, Idaho, and has been in Spokane, Washington since then. One of Dantley’s goals for his downtime was to keep in basketball shape and do all that he can to maintain readiness for the future. To that end, luck has smiled on him and one of his former AAU coaches from the Las Vegas Prospects, Rick Walter, now coaches at Spokane Falls Community College. Any morning that the two can find the time, he works out with Coach Walter and goes through some serious basketball workouts.
Elder Walker at the
training center
Elder Walker working on the
golf game
Elder Walker showing off the guns

According to Coach Walter, Dantley seems to be maintaining his basketball skills. As far as the hope that he might be playing pickup ball with formidable Gonzaga players – that hasn’t occurred just yet. So far, he plays with other missionaries and basketball players around Spokane. He does hope too hoop it up with Gonzaga players, or Spokane Falls players. As far as physical activity not on the court, he's lifting weights and jumping rope when he can and has added about 10 pounds to his frame since graduating from high school.

Dantley Walker and Coach Walter in Spokane, Washington

I inquired as to whether he’s been recognized (as a UNLV recruit) while out doing his mission work, and he really hasn’t because up there they’re more focused on Boise St, Washing St. U of Washington, Gonzaga, and Idaho St. But, they eventually all find out he’s going to be a Rebel, and think it’s really cool. For those that may not  straight off believe him, they check the internet – especially his YouTube mix tapes and find out quick enough. I also wondered if he regularly got heat (given what he’s doing) for not going to BYU – and Dantley normally appeases their question by pointing out that he is from Nevada, UNLV offered first, and as a matter of fact Coach Rice was very interested in Dantley as assistant coach of BYU. It a great situation he has with the Rebels, going on the mission and then coming back as a scholarship player, but he’s really interested in Coach Rice’s up-tempo system. He also sometimes mentions that the WCC isn’t as strong as the MWC, but has to be careful about saying that in front of the Gonzaga fans.

Yes, Dantley Walker has had some friendly suggestions  to just stay put after his mission and help the Gonzaga Bulldogs – to that his answer is “no way, gonna run and gun with Coach Rice and the Rebs.”

Dantley Walker will be back from his mission in July, 2013, and will begin practice at UNLV shortly thereafter. Best of luck to Dantley Walker and his family, he is perusing and admirable endeavor in the name of his faith, and that’s a quality trait to have. He’ll be more mature and focused, and hopefully will run point for the Rebels when he is ready to suit up.

Shabazz no more

Although there were many reasons that it would make sense for Shabazz Muhammad to join the Rebels, he cut UNLV from his list of five shortly before the McDonalds All-American game. Incidentally, he was MVP of that game, and won the dunk contest.

For whatever reason, Muhammad chose UCLA – a storied basketball program, that has become an embarrassment to its former glory, harbors a coach who nobody can say has any discipline over his players, hasn’t made the NCAA tournament in the past two years, and has been the jumping away point for numerous promising recruits – who go on to do great things elsewhere (Chace Stanback UNLV, Mike Moser UNLV, Drew Gordon UNM, Matt Carlino BYU). A lot has been said, straight out in the media that Muhammad, or rather his family, was essentially bought and sold under the guise of an Adidas shoe deal. For what it’s worth – I honestly hope not. While UNLV is not an Adidas team (Nike last time I checked), the choice of UCLA over the likes of national champion Kentucky, or Duke which is a perennial favorite and sucks up more TV time than anyone makes no sense whatsoever. UCLA holds no advantage over UNLV in terms of basketball prowess. On this subject, this is perhaps the only time I’ve ever agreed with that San Diego loving troll Ed Graney of the LVRJ on this point – we don’t need Shabazz Muhammad. No reason to be bitter towards him on this, for not choosing UNLV – but the angst I have (as well as many others) is about the stupidity of the choice of UCLA.

Mashour has left the building

Karam Mashour
Israel native Karam Mashour has declared his intention to leave the Rebels in search of a team that will give him the chance to crack the roster and play solid minutes. For a guy with the work ethic that he has, first to arrive and last to leave practice, as well as his unfettered support of his teammates throughout a season that allowed him less playing time than the season before – it’s sad that we couldn’t utilize him better.

His highlight of his career was the baseline dunk against the University of Central Arkansas. Less than a month later, came the lowlight – refusing to play garbage time minutes. It’s understandable why he’s frustrated, he played for the Israeli U19 national team, and supposedly was an athletic freak on the Las Vegas Prospects. Since arriving at UNLV, he’s not done anything but play garbage time for the most part. Mashour – a Kruger recruit and scholarship holder, showed more promise coming in, and was never given the chance to put that on the floor in front of the fans.

There certainly is a duality to this kind of problem – UNLV has largely been successful over the years, even back to the Tark days because of transfers. There is an ebb and flow of players who are constantly in search of playing time, or a system that better suits them or highlights their talent. Some people are searching for a challenge, others are looking to be a big fish in a little pond, instead of a little fish in a big pond. We get it, basketball is like life – sometimes things don’t work out as planned.

Karam Mashour, for certain, helped the Rebels the past two seasons, and surely improved his skills for practicing with and against a nationally ranked team. Hopefully, this experience serves him well wherever he plays next, and when he gets back to Israel and no doubt try his hand a pro-ball there. Good luck to Karam, and thank you.

In pursuit of Anthony Bennett

Numerous sources, LVRJ, LV Sun, Vegas Seven, have all noted that Anthony Bennett is the biggest prize left in the recruiting sphere, and the Rebels are hot on his trail trying to make his colors Scarlet and Gray.

I am cautiously optimistic that he will become a Rebel for several reasons 1) there is significant room now and in the future for a large power forward in our offense, 2) friendship with Khem Birch, 3) the Rebels are a damn good team worthy of his kind of talent, 4) excursion to his homeland, Canada this summer.

Hopefully Anthony Bennett does not feel any kind of distain that all the talk over the past year or two has been about Shabazz. Reality check – any town that has the consensus #1 pick will get a little crazy over him, especially so when we have a very good basketball team that could potentially land him.

Fact #2, Las Vegas is very high on Findlay Prep, and UNLV would love to land or retain as many Findlay Prep players as possible on the regular. The Runnin’ Rebels is the perfect landing spot for Anthony Bennett to spend 1-2 years bettering himself as well as the Rebels in pursuit of a championship and a pro-career. Anthony Bennett – WE WANT YOU TO BE A REBEL!


  1. Love hearing about Walker. I haven't heard anything about him for a long time, and I guess with other recruiting excitement, there is little talk about his arrival.

    Let me make this prediction about him... he will end up in the running as one of the best 3 point shooters, one of the best free throw shooters, and within the top 20 in all time scorers in UNLV history.

    Yes... He's like 5'10" and can't jump. Whatever. I'm stickin' with it!

  2. Thanks for the update on Dantley. It's great to hear that he is having a good experience on his mission. I look forward to watching him in Rebel Red in the years to come. With him being in Spokane - maybe he can find a way to meet up with arguably the best point guard of all-time (John Stockton) to pick his brain about the position. Thanks again - and keep these updates coming from time-to-time.