In a Maui Invitational that features hallowed programs such as UCLA, Kansas, Indiana and St. John's, it's only fitting that the UNLV Runnin' Rebels will be making the trip to Hawaii as well.
But for a program that has won only three NCAA Tournament games since their glory days came to an end in 1991, will offseason losses keep the Rebels out of the tournament for the third straight year?
UNLV lost three of their top four scorers from last season to the NBA Draft. Rashad Vaughn went 17th overall to Milwaukee, while Christian Wood and Jelan Kendrick went undrafted.
For a Rebels team that went 18-15 last year, head coach Dave Rice will try to cover up those losses with the addition of a five-star recruit in seven-footer Stephen Zimmerman and a four-star talent in Derrick Jones. (Former St. John's shot blocker Chris Obekpa also transferred to UNLV late this offseason, but will sit out the year per NCAA transfer rules.)
Their season so far
UNLV squeaked past Cal Poly by just two points in their season opener. They haven't had much trouble in their two games since then. They expectedly blew out Division II New Mexico Highlands by 62, and rolled past Southern Utah on Wednesday for a 84-64 victory.
So far this season, UNLV's five-star recruit has delivered. Zimmerman has nearly averaged a double-double so far this year with 12.7 points and 9.7 rebounds through three games.
The leading returning scorer from last season, Patrick McCaw, has so far played the part this year, as he's led the Rebels in scoring and has hit eight of his 14 shots from 3-point range. Fellow top prospect Derrick Jones is also a player to watch, and he's scored 13.7 points per game on a blazing 65 percent shooting (15-23) to start the year.
UNLV opens Maui against UCLA and will then play Kansas or Chaminade.