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REBELS BASKETBALL:

Stacey Augmon arrives at UNLV confident heading into new endeavor

Rebels legend excited to develop younger players and hit recruiting trail for the first time

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AP FILE PHOTO

Former UNLV greats Stacey Augmon, left, and Larry Johnson are congratulated by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski following the Rebel’s 103-73 victory over the Blue Devils in the 1990 NCAA championship game in Denver, Colo. Augmon, who played in the NBA for 16 seasons and spent the last four as an assistant with the Denver Nuggets, will be joining former teammate Dave Rice’s staff at UNLV as an assistant.

Wed, May 11, 2011 (2:15 a.m.)

When Stacey Augmon left UNLV in 1991 to embark on what would be a 15-year NBA career, he never saw himself coming back to sit on the bench at the Thomas & Mack Center in a suit and tie.

When legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian was forced out not long after, and the program began a downward spiral it wouldn't emerge from for more than two decades, the chances grew even slimmer.

Whatever hatchet that may have existed has now been officially buried, as Augmon left a cherry post as an assistant coach with the NBA's Denver Nuggets to join the staff of former Rebels teammate Dave Rice.

"When I think about it, the people that were involved in that are not here," Augmon said from his new digs at the Mack on Tuesday. "It strained (the relationship with UNLV) some, but once a Rebel, always a Rebel."

Augmon accepted the job last Tuesday, and a week later was back on campus, getting settled in and meeting with his new group of pupils. He began to cozy into his new office, with photos from his glory days as a Rebel peppering the hallways just outside the door.

He said Rice originally contacted him about coming back to his alma mater after accepting the head coaching position last month. Though Augmon didn't decide until last week to put his NBA coaching career on hold, he said he had it in the back of his mind throughout the end of the Nuggets' season. That culminated two weeks ago with a five-game first round loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"In the NBA, you move up quickly," Augmon said. "I was thinking I'd give myself three or four years and I'd be on the bench somewhere moving on to the next level and becoming a head coach. It's tough. I just feel something coming back here accepting the job. I don't know what it is. It's a good feeling, and this is a special place for me.

"I want to coach down here and see how it is at the college level, then evaluate from there, but I do want to be a head coach on one of those levels before it's all said and done."

Augmon, 42, joins Justin Hutson and Heath Schroyer as assistants on Rice's staff, and will be the only one on the bench without collegiate coaching experience.

Still, there appears to be little concern that the former All-American and third all-time leading scorer in UNLV history won't be a wild success in his new endeavor.

Augmon learned the art of player development from longtime UNLV assistant coach Tim Grgurich, who currently is working with the Dallas Mavericks, as both a player and peer. They also were together while in Denver and during Augmon's playing days in Portland. He maintained that Grgurich will be available to the UNLV program for wisdom as Rice gets underway as a head coach for the first time.

"I think the biggest challenge will be to get them to play the way (Rice) wants to," Augmon said of getting the current Rebels accustomed to playing a significantly more uptempo style of ball. "We can say we want to run, but it's not easy. It's not an easy task. Not everyone can play the running game. We'll have to see what we have with the talent here, but that's going to be the challenge for us."

Obviously, though, many on the outside — and within the program — see the hire as a potential slam dunk in terms of the boost it could give UNLV on the recruiting trail. That holds major weight considering the wealth of young talent available within the city limits in the 2012 class, in which the Rebels will have at least four open scholarships to fill.

It's a similar scenario to what Kansas had a few years back when head coach Bill Self brought former Jayhawk All-American and longtime NBA veteran Danny Manning onto his staff to not only coach big men, but also to help recruit top-shelf talent.

Augmon has never recruited a player before and knows he has plenty to brush up on before doing so, including familiarizing himself with how the NCAA rules have changed over the past two decades, but he'll take on the challenge with confidence.

"Everyone thinks their kids are going to the NBA," he said. "If you think about it, if you can go in and tell them I can get them to that next level or give them a chance to get to that next level, it could hold a lot of weight.

"I'm going to go personally on how I got there, because all odds were against me, also. From personally experience, getting them to come to UNLV, I'll know how to get you to the next level. That's going to be my sales pitch. I can work you out, I can show you what it takes, I can tell you which direction to go, because I've been through it."

Director of basketball operations hire coming soon

Expect news of a hire for the final post on Rice's staff — a director of basketball operations — either later this week or early next week.

The prime candidates with UNLV ties are former Rebel staffers Jay Spoonhour — currently the head coach at Moberly (Mo.) Community College — and Bill Wuczynski, who is now an assistant at TCU.

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Discussion: 17 comments so far…

  1. RebinSeattle - Danny Manning is the assistant at Kansas that was mentioned in the article.

  2. Sorry about the Manning typo, fellas.

  3. I know it's insanely early, but Lunardi at ESPN has UNLV as a #5 pick for the bracket. I think that's a pretty good judge on how good the rebels are going to be this next season even with all the changes happening.

  4. Stacey was a huge get for this staff, he will work wonders in the recruiting game. Just his overall UNLV mystique about him is what we needed. This team will blow up next year, we should be able to play an aggressive uptempo style that gets to the rack in open space.

  5. I doubt Augmon will use the "do you know who I am" approach when he is recruiting. I also believe that todays players are smarter then people give them credit for as well, most young players study hoop history about who they are being recruited by & who is their recruiter. If they dont know Stacey they will learn real quick, besides parents & single mothers raising todays players will know who Stacey is if they followed basketball at all in their teens & early 20's.

    I believe Stacey will be a great recruiter, he is one of the best Rebels of all time, a national champion, a long time veteran of the NBA, & former NBA coach, recruits will listen to Stacey when he is sitting in their living room. He could possibly end up as the best recruiter UNLV has ever had if he plays his cards right. Stacey knows what kind of players to look for & what kind of players it takes to win. He will land talented players, once they arrive I believe that Stacey will sharpen their competitive edge, you know that edge that make you "a REBEL".