A nice going away present for Rene Rougeau

Just hours before boarding a plane for the long 17-hour trip to Australia, UNLV senior swingman Rene Rougeau got some very good news from head coach Lon Kruger.

A day after the Rebels decided to pull out of the running for UConn transfer Curtis Kelly, Kruger made it official that he would use his last scholarship for the upcoming season on the popular 6-6 Rougeau.

A hard-working walk-on who was arguably the top defensive player in the Mountain West Conference last season, Rougeau averaged 2.14 steals and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game while also scoring 9.0 points per game. He also blocked 39 shots and was named to the all-Mountain West Conference Tournament team after helping lead UNLV to its second straight MWC Tourney title.

"I'm real happy," the senior from Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., said. "I almost wanted to break down when I heard the news. It's a great accomplishment. It feels real good. I don't have to worry about where I'm going to get money from now. My family is really happy as well."

Rougeau comes from a large family that includes two brothers and three sisters. His dad, Glenn, drives a Metro bus in downtown Los Angeles on the graveyard shift to help support the family.

"It's always tough for regular students to have to work through financial aid," Rougeau said. "It depends on how much your parents make and stuff like that that plays a major key. My parents did the best they can and we've made it this far. They don't have to worry anymore now. … They're jumping for joy for sure."

Not a bad going away present, huh?

"Definitely," Rougeau said. "It's so good to be coming back and to know that I have something to look forward to in the future.

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