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UNLV to retire 2 jerseys, announces nonconference schedule

Former UNLV basketball stars Freddie Banks and Robert Smith will have their jerseys raised to the Thomas & Mack Center rafters, the university announced Wednesday.

Banks will be honored during the Nov. 27 home game against UCLA. Smith’s number will rise Feb. 19 when Colorado State visits.

UNLV on Wednesday also unveiled its nonconference schedule. The UCLA game isn’t the only marquee matchup.

The Rebels also host California on Nov. 13, play at T-Mobile Arena against Michigan on Nov. 19 and Arizona or Wichita State two days later, and visit Southern Methodist on Dec. 1. They also play two games at Michelob Ultra Arena — Seattle on Dec. 8 and Hartford on Dec. 11.

Banks, who coaches Canyon Springs High School, was relieved to find the UCLA date doesn’t conflict with his team’s schedule.

“I didn’t schedule a game that day, so I’m good,” Banks said laughing.

Banks, who made the 1983 McDonald’s All-America Team at Valley High School, helped lead the Rebels to the 1987 Final Four. He made an NCAA Tournament record 10 3-pointers in the semifinals against Indiana and averaged 19.5 points that season. His 152 3-pointers that season remain the school record.

“It means a lot to me because it’s been a long time coming,” Banks said of the UNLV honor. “I’m thankful to God that it happened now while my mother and father are still here.”

Smith was the point guard on UNLV’s first Final Four team, which set national records with 3,426 points and 23 100-point games. He led the nation that season in free throw percentage at 92.5 and twice led the Rebels in assists.

Smith later played seven seasons in the NBA and coached Bishop Gorman for nine years, winning two state championships and finishing second twice.

He was the Rebels’ radio game analyst for 10 years before suffering a stroke two years ago.

“(The honor is) long overdue and incredibly well-deserved and very gratifying,” UNLV play-by-play announcer Jon Sandler said. “I wish it had been done prior to Robert getting ill. But he’s at a point now where it will register and it will mean a great deal to him.”

It also will mean a lot to the Las Vegas community, Sandler said. “He’s such an important part of this community and has been for so long.”

Sandler said though Smith’s condition has improved, he still has a lot of work ahead.

“Each time I’ve seen him, he’s been a little bit better,” Sandler said.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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