If you read my Fact or Fiction article from back on March 5th, you knew this day was more than likely coming. If you didn't, well this is just another day at the office in terms of off-season practices for the UNLV men's basketball program. Defections and transfers have become more commonplace at UNLV it seems than any other five school's combined (Unless you are a New Mexico fan that is).
Jalen Poyser and Troy Baxter Jr were both highly touted 4 star recruits coming out of high school, but both fell out of favor in coach Marvin Menzies' lineup throughout the program's most tumultuous season in school history. Poyser, who was a starting guard and preseason candidate to be the team's leading scorer never got comfortable being the go-to option for the Runnin' Rebels. His shooting and scoring averages plummeted drastically before being replaced as a starter by freshman Zion Morgan. It was just a matter of time before malcontent settled in for the supplanted sophomore from Canada. As it is he will now seek playing time and a fresh start elsewhere.
The aforementioned Baxter was Marvin Menzies prize coupe on the recruiting trail after taking the UNLV job on short notice. The 6'9 high flyer from Gainesvile, Florida looked to be a lock for major minutes and a major role once he signed on to play in Las Vegas. He played considerably to start the season off, but like Poyser did, he quickly dropped out of favor. A nagging injury was publicly given as the reason he wasn't on the floor and not dressing for certain games, but even a layman could see that something just wasn't clicking for the freshman. He too will try to get it going at another program.
The slight surprise here might be Zion Morgan. He was one of the ragtag freshman added in true haste to fill out the roster. That being said, Zion was hands down UNLV's best on-ball defender all season long, and he constantly brought hustle and energy every time he was on the court. So much so that coach Menzies actually put Morgan into the starting lineup in conference play when the wheels really started to come off in earnest for the team. Out of the three defectors, Morgan had the best chance to be a role player who could consistently earn time by his staunch defense alone.
I expect a couple more transfers to be announced soon, so this isn't over just yet. Remember that this isn't the debacle that was the Tina Kunzer-Murphy and Chris "Bird" Beard folly. This is coach Menzies knowing his one season mulligan is over, and him bringing in the best pieces he possibly can to get him the wins that will be needed to keep him at UNLV. This fanbase and booster-base demand wins. And the demand is about to get a whole lot louder in the next couple seasons.