Zimmerman Chooses to Stay Close to Home and Commit to UNLV

7′ center Stephen Zimmerman chose where he will play college basketball on Thursday night, choosing to stay close to home and play for the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. (Source: Las Vegas Weekly)

The preseason leading up to the 2014-15 season generated a ton of optimism around the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels program. With the likes of Rashad Vaughn and Goodluck Okonoboh coming to UNLV, and Cody Doolin transferring to the school out of San Francisco, there was reason to believe that the Rebels could contend for a Mountain West title.

Injuries got in the way, and the Rebels struggled for most of the season. The team didn’t make any form of postseason play, and it was a disappointing showing all-around.

This season, the optimism is beginning to build once again. Even though Rashad Vaughn declared for the NBA Draft and Cody Doolin is graduated, the Rebels are starting to build another strong program. Thursday night saw their plan take a big leap forward.

Big man Stephen Zimmerman opted to stay at home and play for the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, giving the program a huge boost in the front court moving forwards.

Stephen Zimmerman is a five-star recruit, according to ESPN Recruiting Nation, and chose to play at UNLV over the likes of Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, and Arizona. The 7′, 230-pound big man out of Las Vegas, and Bishop Gorman High School, is a big addition to the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.

Zimmerman is one of the most talented big men in the 2015 recruiting class because of his talents in both the low post and the high post. He has a soft release around the rim, and his high release is tough to block because of his size. He’s basically the complete package when it comes to big men. He can shoot the ball well all the way out to the three point line with a smooth jumper. He’s a mobile big man with great footwork in the paint, and has strong court vision which translates to him being a strong ball distributor.

Adding Zimmerman, the #10 prospect on ESPN, is a big boost for the Rebels. NBA prospect Christian Wood may return to UNLV, which would be a huge boost for Dave Rice’s program. Freshmen Goodluck Okonoboh and Dwayne Morgan are both returning to the program, unless something changes, which means the Rebels could potentially have one of the most talented front courts in the country (if Wood returns).

Zimmerman helps to bolster a recruiting class that also consists of small forward Derrick Jones and Canadian guard Jalen Poyser. The Rebels have the potential to bounce back nicely after an 18 – 15 season.

– T.B.