UNLV basketball’s stellar 2021 signing class is official.
The Rebels announced Wednesday they’ve received signed letters of intent from Bishop Gorman High point guard Zaon Collins, former Durango point guard Keshon Gilbert and Arizona high school forward Arthur Kaluma.
The group, which has two consensus four-star prospects in Collins and Kaluma, is ranked 14th nationally by 247 Sports and 23rd by Rivals. It’s considered the Mountain West’s top class by both sites, giving second-year coach T.J. Otzelberger back-to-back conference-best classes, according to 247 Sports.
“We are very pleased that Zaon, Keshon and Arthur have all chosen to become Runnin’ Rebels,” Otzelberger said in a statement. “They are all great young men and very talented basketball players, and we are looking forward to them joining us on campus for next season.”
The three should give UNLV a jolt of talent as the program seeks its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013.
Here’s a look at each player:
Collins, listed at 6 feet 1 inch and 175 pounds, is the crown jewel of the class. Otzelberger convinced the Gael to stay home in August despite interest from Arizona State, Arizona and Southern California.
Collins is considered the No. 5 point guard and No. 36 overall player in the class, according to 247 Sports. He’s a cerebral point guard who can set up his teammates, defend well and score when he needs to. Bishop Gorman is 86-12 in his three years and last season he averaged 14 points, eight assists and three steals.
“Zaon is a lightning-quick point guard who excels in the open court,” Otzelberger said. “He makes the right play at the right time and is a proven winner. Defensively, he has the ability to pressure opposing point guards 94 feet to dictate tempo and disrupt opposing offenses.”
Gilbert, listed at 6-4 and 180 pounds, was the Rebels’ first commitment in the class in September 2019. He’ll be returning home to play for UNLV, because he’s playing for national power Vashon High School in St. Louis this season.
Gilbert had an impressive run with the Trailblazers before leaving. He averaged 15.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists as a sophomore, then helped Durango reach the Class 4A state tournament last season for the first time since 2003.
He’s ranked 32nd among point guards in the class by 247 Sports and chose UNLV over offers from Long Beach State, Fresno State and UNR. His brother Kendrick is a freshman walk-on with the Rebels.
“Keshon is a powerful playmaking guard who impacts winning in a multitude of ways,” Otzelberger said. “He is a fierce competitor who can physically impose his will on opposing guards. Offensively, he has the ability to finish through contact and knock down the 3-point shot.”
Kaluma, listed at 6-8 and 225 pounds, helped UNLV close its class in dynamic fashion when he committed Nov. 12. He is considered the No. 11 forward and No. 39 overall player in the class, according to 247 Sports.
The Boston native, who plays for Dream City Christian School in Glendale, Arizona, comes with a connection to Collins. Both played AAU ball with local team Vegas Elite.
Kaluma also had interest from Arizona State, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Syracuse, USC and Texas A&M, according to 247 Sports. No stats were available.
“Arthur is a mismatch player with guard skills who uses his high basketball IQ to create an advantage for his team,” Otzelberger said. “He can score off the bounce and from the perimeter and is a terrific finisher in the paint. Defensively, his size, length and physicality will make him a force.”