Five UNLV players will participate in the Desert Reign ProCity summer league, which begins play Wednesday night.
According to the league’s website, the Rebels taking part in the six-week league will be Cody Doolin, Jordan Cornish, Goodluck Okonoboh, Jerome Seagears and Ben Carter.
Desert Reign is billed as a pro-am summer league, with rosters made up of UNLV players, out-of-town college players with local ties, and professionals from the area. The first sessions will take place Wednesday at Grant Sawyer Middle School, and the league will run until July 22 (full schedule can be viewed here).
Last summer, five Rebels participated—Jelan Kendrick, Roscoe Smith, Demetris Morant, Daquan Cook and Savon Goodman. Former Rebels Anthony Marshall and Quintrell Thomas suited up as well, as did Ben Carter (an Oregon player at the time, Carter has since transferred to UNLV).
All five UNLV players participating this year are newcomers to the program, which means Desert Reign will provide fans with their first opportunity to see them in action. Other notable participants include former Rebels Justin Hawkins and Kevin Olekaibe, Las Vegas native Pierre Jackson and Boise State guard Michael Thompson .
Let’s break down some of the key storylines in advance of summer league play:
Doolin at the point
Even now, almost four full months before the official start of practice, the Rebels appear to be Cody Doolin’s team. The San Francisco transfer is the heavy favorite to start at point guard, and with the team incorporating so many new faces, it’s largely going to be up to Doolin to get everyone on the same page and playing like a team.
The options are thin behind Doolin, so it would put Rebels fans at ease if he shows a command of the team early on. Desert Reign is a pretty free-flowing setting (defense is optional), so Doolin will have every chance to get settled in offensively. He’ll also have freshman Goodluck Okonoboh on his team, so it will be interesting to see if that duo can build some early chemistry.
Okonoboh on the spot
Speaking of Okonoboh, Desert Reign will also allow the freshman big man to show that he’s more than just a defensive-minded rim protector. Sure, it’ll be fun to watch him reject a few shots into the stands during summer league, but I’ll be more interested in seeing how his offensive skills have developed since he last played in Las Vegas during AAU season last summer.
The better Okonoboh looks with the ball in his hands, the more playing time he’ll earn himself in 2014-15. And playing with Doolin should help. If Okonoboh can catch and finish above the rim, and flash a few confident post moves, it’ll be a good sign for his progress.
Dave Rice made a point of trying to boost the Rebels’ outside shooting options during the offseason, which led to bringing in Jordan Cornish and Jerome Seagears, among others. At Desert Reign, both players should be able to comfortably dial in from 3-point range and get a head start on the 2014-15 season.
Cornish is a true freshman, so it may take him some time to adjust to the college game, but Seagears is a senior transfer from Rutgers who shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range last year. If his waiver is approved by the NCAA and he’s allowed to play this season, Seagears could prove to be an essential outside-shooting threat. Fans can get their first glimpse of the duo’s long-range accuracy on Wednesday night.
Rebels Offer Harry Giles, Other Top 2016 Prospects
Dwayne Morgan Makes USA U18 Team
Dwayne Morgan Finalist for USA Basketball U18 Team
Roster Projection 2.0: 2016-17
Roster Projection 2.0: 2015-16
Follow Mike Grimala (@MikeGrimala) on Twitter for 24/7 Rebels updates.
Follow Mike Grimala via RSS.