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Kevin Kruger

Courtesy of UNLV

Kevin Kruger gives instructions to UNLV players during a timeout in this undated file photo. Kruger, a former player and an assistant coach to T.J. Otzelberger at UNLV, was introduced Monday as the Rebels new head coach.

UNLV’s rebuilding process took a big hit on Monday, as the program confirmed that Class of 2021 recruit Arthur Kaluma has been released from his letter of intent.

Kaluma, a 6-foot-7 wing, is rated the No. 43 player in the country by 247 Sports. He initially committed to UNLV in November and signed with the scarlet and gray shortly thereafter. It was lauded as a huge recruiting win for then-coach T.J. Otzelberger, as UNLV had to beat out Kansas, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Arizona State, Oklahoma, Arkansas and USC to land Kaluma.

Kaluma’s decision to decommit from UNLV did not come as a surprise. His recruitment process was tied closely to that of Las Vegas native Zaon Collins, another 4-star prospect in the Class of 2021. Collins and Kaluma are good friends, and when Collins pledged to UNLV it paved the way for Kaluma to follow suit.

Together they formed the foundation of a three-man recruiting class that ranked No. 1 in the Mountain West and among the top 20 in the nation.

Collins was eventually dropped by the program following his arrest for a car crash in December that killed the other driver. Without Collins, Kaluma’s status became shaky. And once Otzelberger bolted for Iowa State, Kaluma’s decision to reopen his recruitment became a fait accompli.

It is standard in today’s game for schools to release players from their letters of intent in the case of a coaching change. New coach Kevin Kruger had expressed optimism that Kaluma would remain committed to UNLV but did indicate he would support Kaluma’s decision either way.

Kaluma’s departure leaves just one player remaining from Otzelberger’s vaunted 2021 class: point guard Keshon Gilbert, who recently reaffirmed his commitment to UNLV. Gilbert, a 3-star Las Vegas native, is ranked No. 209 nationally.

With Kaluma out of the picture, UNLV now has an extra scholarship spot to fill on its 2021-22 roster. There are three total openings, as Kruger has moved quickly to bring in six transfers for next season.

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

Article written by #LasVegasSun

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