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Libertys Joshua Jefferson (5) is shown during a game against Bishop Gorman at Liberty High School Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022.

Everyone loves a returning hometown hero, including the UNLV basketball program.

Last year, the team added Las Vegas native Jalen Hill as an offseason transfer after the former Clark High product spent four years at Oklahoma. The prior offseason, it was Isaiah Cottrell boomeranging back to Las Vegas following two years at West Virginia.

Will UNLV coach Kevin Kruger stick with the second-time-around blueprint and snag another local transfer for the 2024-25 team?

There are plenty of options. Las Vegas produces a lot of Division I talent, and with transfer rates skyrocketing, many of them eventually end up in the portal. More than a handful of locals have already entered the portal since the end of the season — including several difference-makers — and the market is moving quickly.

A look at some of the Las Vegas ballers currently available:

Milos Uzan, Oklahoma

Point guard

2023-24: 9.0 points, 4.4 assists, 1.2 steals, 29.6 3FG%

From UNLV’s perspective, Uzan is probably the most intriguing name on this list considering talent, fit and eligibility.

UNLV was the first program to offer Uzan back in 2019, shortly after his freshman year at Desert Pines, and two years later the Scarlet and Gray were still recruiting him the hardest. UNLV was one of four finalists when he chose Oklahoma, and Kruger was an assistant on that staff, so there is a prior relationship there.

Uzan has been a two-year starter at Oklahoma and still has two years of eligibility remaining. He would give UNLV a much-needed secondary ballhandler to team with D.J. Thomas, and at 6-foot-4, Uzan has enough size to make that backcourt pairing work on the defensive end.

Look for UNLV to pursue Uzan with fervor.

Frankie Collins, Arizona State

Point guard

2023-24: 13.8 points, 3.2 assists, 2.6 steals, 31 3FG%

Collins was a 4-star prospect coming out of Coronado in the Class of 2021, and he has put up solid numbers in three years at Arizona State while developing into a top-notch defensive guard. Unlike other players on this list, Collins only has one year of eligibility remaining, so he would be a short-term option.

UNLV contacted Collins after he entered the portal, but it doesn’t appear the Scarlet and Gray are in the running. Collins named TCU, SMU, San Diego State, Florida, Cal and a return to Arizona State as his finalists, so Kruger can probably move on.

Glenn Taylor, St. John’s


2023-24: 4.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 44.9 FG%

Taylor spent his first two years at Oregon State and appeared to be developing into a good wing, averaging 11.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists while starting 26 of 32 games as a sophomore in 2022-23. Then he transferred to St. John’s, and his lone year under Rick Pitino did not go as planned. He managed just 4.4 points in a career-low 17.5 minutes per game.

Now Taylor is looking for his third team, and with UNLV waving goodbye to wings Luis Rodriguez and Keylan Boone, there could be a spot for a 6-foot-6 forward who averaged double digits scoring in the Pac-12.

Richard Isaacs, Texas Tech

Point guard

2023-24: 15.8 points, 3.5 assists, 29.3 3FG%

This is a tricky one. Kruger showed more interest in Isaacs as a high school recruit than former UNLV T.J. Otzelberger did, and Isaacs has since proven he can score at the Division I level. But he’s facing significant legal troubles. UNLV probably passes on Isaacs this time around.

Joshua Jefferson, Saint Mary’s


2023-24: 10.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 46.9 FG%

Along with Uzan, the 6-foot-8 Jefferson should be a top portal priority for the Scarlet and Gray, and Kruger has already reached out.

A knee injury ended Jefferson’s 2023-24 campaign after 26 games, but that was enough to show the former Liberty star is a big-time player. In addition to averaging 10.2 points per game, he posted the best defensive rating in the West Coast Conference while ranking third in defensive rebounding percentage and sixth in overall rebounding percentage. That fits in perfectly with the kind of physical frontcourt Kruger wants to build.

Jefferson was a high school teammate of D.J. Thomas. He has 60 games of college experience on a good team. He’s got two years of eligibility remaining. It’s a résumé that screams for UNLV to jump in with a competitive NIL deal and push for a commitment, but Jefferson will have a robust market. This is a key recruiting battle to watch.

Angelo Kambala, Utah Tech

Shooting guard

2023-24: 3.0 points, 29.2 FG%, 26.2 3FG%

While we’re on the subject of D.J. Thomas’s former high-school teammates, Kambala came off the bench and got into 23 games for Utah Tech (formerly Dixie State) as a freshman. He was a renowned 3-point bomber at Liberty, but his touch abandoned him last year, as he made just 26.2% from long distance.

Kambala’s shooting woes could be reasoned away by his lack of playing time (9.6 minutes) preventing him from getting into a rhythm, but at 6-foot, 175 pounds, there’s not a lot else he’d bring to the table at UNLV.

Tavi Jackson, Colorado State


2023-24: 3.4 points, 1.5 rebounds, 52 FG%

A 3-star prospect in the Class of 2022, Jackson had offers from other Mountain West programs before committing to Colorado State. He was a rotation regular as a freshman, logging 20.6 minutes per game, but saw his playing time reduced to 8.0 minutes during an injury-plagued sophomore campaign.

At Colorado State, Jackson suited up against UNLV four times and went scoreless in 57 total minutes.

Tone Hunter, Oakland


2023-24: 1.8 points, 1.6 assists, 25 3FG%

Hunter just served as the ninth man on the Oakland squad that upset Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but he is looking for greener pastures as he heads into his final year of eligibility.

At 6-foot-1, 160 pounds, Hunter would strictly serve as a backup point guard option. Considering he’s got one year of eligibility remaining, he would only seem to make sense if Kruger is looking to round out the back of the roster later in the summer.

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

Article written by #LasVegasSun