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Can T.J. Otzelberger Resurrect and Stabilize UNLV?

Can T.J Otzelberger Resurrect and Stabilize UNLV?


Otzelberger has really good experience working him up the coaching ranks. He started off as a basketball coach at Burlington Catholic Central high school from 2001-2004 (03-04 as head coach). Then he moved on to Chipola College as an assistant in 2004-2005, having a successful season going 33-4. His next big step came with becoming an assistant coach at Iowa State from 2006-2013. He then moved on to Washington from 2013-2015 and back to Iowa State the next season both as an assistant.

South Dakota State

In 2016 he was hired as the South Dakota State head coach. In his three years at South Dakota State, he had great success going to the NCAA tournament the first two seasons. Furthermore, in year three he led South Dakota State to a Summit League regular season title, however they fell short of the NCAA tournament losing in the semifinals of the Summit League to Western Illinois. His team was led by one of the best players in the country in Mike Daum and a very good sophomore in David Jenkins Jr.

Immediate Success

For success, he’ll have to continue to implement his style of play with great spacing and a free-flowing offense. He’ll also have to sign players who are highly skilled and can be interchangeable parts. Landing David Jenkins Jr. as a transfer back from South Dakota State is a huge addition to developing a good roster. The immediate success will depend on the development of players who opted to stay at UNLV. Amauri Hardy, Bryce Hamilton, Cheickna Dembele, Jonah Antonio and Mbacke Diong will be key to the success right away.


In order to succeed at UNLV expectations need to be kept in check. The glory days of the Running Rebels contending to win National Championships are gone. That does not mean that Otzelberger can’t turn UNLV back into a winning program. They have the facilities, conference and location to succeed. UNLV is always capable of bringing in a high-level recruit because of its reputation. However, the change must be made to go after three and four-year players who will be there consistently and building a complete roster. Otzelberger will need to recruit well in the western part of the country.

Image result for david jenkins jr

Mountain West Conference

For UNLV to become a team who is consistently an NCAA tournament-caliber program. They must take over the Mountain West Conference as the premier team. In order to do so they must use their brand to recreate recruiting advantages that are sustainable. Also, they’ll need to schedule at a level that is not matchable by any other team in the conference with their tradition. For UNLV, consistency in roster continuity and a recruiting plan that is attainable will bring them back to the top of the Mountain West. To become a successful team on a national radar they must be the best in their conference first, that’s the step UNLV needs to make.


The tradition of UNLV gives advantages that other programs in the Mountain West do not have. The ability to schedule nonconference games against quality opponents will be key to build their resume. As long as Otzelberger continues to bring in quality players, he will get the opportunity to schedule on a national level. This can lead to UNLV being the class of the Mountain West yet again. This will also help in recruiting being able to bring recruits to games against high-quality opponents.


Otzelberger’s style of play will be a great fit for UNLV as it is high pace and space which is intriguing. The addition of David Jenkins Jr. is a huge part of the immediate success for UNLV who will give them a go-to player. Keeping the expectations in check for UNLV will be huge. The days of national title runs are over, now is the time to just build a consistent winner. Next, recruiting on the west coast and bringing in highly skilled three and four-year players will be key to keep continuity. UNLV has the advantage to schedule on a national level. Therefore, that will help with recruiting as well as building the best resume possible. T.J Otzelberger is off to a great start with David Jenkins Jr. coming, but more continuity will be needed.


Images Courtesy of, Cyclone Fanatic, Zimbio

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