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UNLV Rebels vs Akron Zips

Steve Marcus

UNLV Rebels forward Jalen Hill (1) grabs a rebound by Akron Zips guard Tavari Johnson (5) during the second half of an NCAA basketball game at the Thomas & Mack Center Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.

Jalen Hill is already on the comeback trail, and he intends to play basketball at UNLV again.

The senior forward suffered a season-ending ACL tear on Saturday at San Diego State, and on Friday he confirmed he is planning to pursue a medical redshirt that would allow him to return to UNLV for the 2024-25 campaign.

Hill, a fifth-year senior, attended practice at the Thomas & Mack Center and said his goal is to suit up next year.

“That’s the plan,” Hill said. “I want to come back and play. I want to play basketball for as long as possible, so I think at this point that’s my best option.”

Under NCAA rules, a player is eligible for a medical redshirt if an injury prevents them from playing in 30% of their team’s games. UNLV is set to play 31 games this season, and Hill has only played in seven, putting him under the threshold.

Head coach Kevin Kruger is leaving nothing to chance, however, after the NCAA was slow to rule — and ultimately indecisive — with Keylan Boone’s eligibility waiver this season.

Boone petitioned the NCAA to play at UNLV immediately after his second Division-I transfer, and the governing body failed to rule. A court injunction eventually allowed all transfers to suit up, but by that point Boone had sat out the first seven games.

Kruger said he will add another game — UNLV has one open spot on the schedule — if it makes Hill’s case more sound.

“I’m not really confident in anything anymore with how things go [with the NCAA],” Kruger said. “He deserves it. He’s done everything right. He’s been a great student-athlete. Great GPA. He’s stayed out of trouble.

“I know we’re one game under the overall limit, so who knows? If we’ve got to schedule another game to put him underneath and make it easier, we’ll definitely discuss that. He deserves another year.”

Hill started the first six games of the season before suffering a broken wrist against Akron on Nov. 28. That injury kept him out for more than a month, before he returned against San Diego State. Hill started that game and played 14 minutes, posting six points, two rebounds and a steal.

Late in the first half, Hill leaped to contest a shot around the rim and landed awkwardly. He said he felt two pops, and the team’s medical staff quickly confirmed a torn ACL.

Hill wore a knee brace at Friday’s practice and used a crutch to move around.

He said ACL repair surgery is scheduled for next week, and then he’ll begin the nine- to 12-month rehab process, targeting a return to the court in 2024-25.

Hill, a Las Vegas native, played his first four years at Oklahoma before moving to UNLV this year as a grad transfer. For the season he is averaging 10.7 points and 6.1 rebounds.

Until he takes the floor again, Hill intends to do whatever he can at practices and games to support his teammates.

“Obviously, it’s frustrating, but I’m here to support my team,” Hill said. “Be a better leader, helping out the coaches, because I still believe this team can go far.”

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

Article written by #LasVegasSun