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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Monday / December 18.
  • Birch to UNLV, Watch Out for the Rebels

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    Former Pittsburgh forward Khem Birch is headed to UNLV in what could be the makings of a big 2012 class for the Rebels.

    The former McDonald’s All-American committed Monday after visiting the campus with his mother, Wendy Sparks, and CIA Bounce coach Mike George.

    The 6-foot-9 Birch also considered Florida and New Mexico State.

    “I really like UNLV,” he told Alex Kline of The Recruit Scoop. “It was a very tough decision but UNLV is a good fit for me because of the coaches, players and facilities. I will be able to train during my time off. Also, I can develop under a great, young coach in Dave Rice. He and the entire staff made me feel very comfortable in Las Vegas.”

    Birch is friendly with fellow Canadian Anthony Bennett, a 6-7 power forward at Findlay Prep who on Sunday cut his list to five schools.

    As first  reported by SNY.tv, Bennett is considering the Rebels along with Florida, Oregon, Washington and Kentucky.

    UNLV is also still in the mix for 6-6 small forward Shabazz Muhammad of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, the consensus No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2012.

    “It’s a great situation,” Muhammad told FiveStarBasketball.com. “I mean, UNLV fans are tough. It’s tough not to go there. They’re at my games. They got the Fatheads there. Everything. They’re a great fan base and they’re a great program that I’m also looking at.”

    Asked what the addition of Birch means to UNLV, Ron Holmes, Muhammad’s father, told SNY.tv, “‘Bazz wants to go to a program that has a chance to win a national championship. UNLV is putting the pieces together to be in that position. They are close to home and have a great style of play. Getting players like Khem Birch only strengthens UNLV in the eyes of Shabazz.”

    Muhammad is also considering Kentucky, Duke, Arizona, Kansas and UCLA.

    UNLV already has three commits in guards Katin Reinhardt and DaQuan Cook and power forward Demetris Morant.

    And now, the No. 12 Rebels have Birch, who must sit until December of 2012. In the meantime, he can practice with the team.

    “For me, it’s a new chapter,” he told Kline. “I am looking forward to my experience at UNLV and just enjoying my time as a student athlete in college. I just want to live life, that’s all.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

    • Birch is a wackadoodle. His problems will follow him where ever he goes.

    • why not point us to all your great inside articles on deandre daniels and tarc? lol

      stop pretending to pass yourself off as knowing anything that is going on in the recruiting world. you really are doing ku fans a disservice.

    • Congrats UNLV, you’ve inherited a quitter weakling that cries because practice is “too hard”. Go ahead and sign Shabazz, with Birch, you’ll still have the SOFTEST front court in the NCAA — unless he quits for another program, or goes to the NBA where Birch will definitely prove he doesn’t have the toughness or skill to play with the big boys. Apparently, life gets hard when you run out of 5-8 Canadian high schoolers to dunk on.

    • are pitt fans going to keep blaming birch?

    • As far as Birch being soft, I heard the same thing about a transfer from UCLA who is averaging a double double every game. I’m sure you ll tell me something similar about Jones from USC. Bottom line is, the coaches will get him playing the style of ball that excites young men like him. You have your opinion but I guarantee you that Birch won’t be the throw away you are hoping he will be. He’s already gone so most of us in Las Vegas expect you to talk trash about him. Pitts game is slow, so come out to the fastest town in the US and run and gun.

    • Oh and by the way, a guy named Anthony Bennet from Canada is one of ESPN’s top recruits is another weak Canadian who along with another weak guy named Shabazz will be running lanes with Birch. UNLV will find the scholarship and room for Bennet too.