“Shock” was the first emotion felt by Dantley Walker and Nigel Williams-Goss.
Shabazz Muhammad called it a “major surprise.”
Since word spread Friday that coach Lon Kruger had left UNLV for Oklahoma, Rebels recruiting targets throughout Southern Nevada have been trying to digest the move.
Now they must play the waiting game.
“It was a crazy time. Everyone was just in shock,” Williams-Goss said. “No one expected the move.”
Williams-Goss, a sophomore guard for Findlay Prep, made an oral commitment to UNLV on Dec. 15. Though he has not de-committed, the polished floor general is waiting to see who will replace Kruger before making a decision on his future.
Williams-Goss learned of Kruger’s departure Friday while in Washington, D.C., where the Pilots are staying until Sunday after losing in the quarterfinals of the ESPN RISE National High School Invitational on Thursday at Bethesda, Md.
Williams-Goss initially thought Kruger’s departure could be an April Fools’ joke, but reality set in as the day wore on.
He said he will wait to make any decision on his future until he has time to discuss the change in depth with his family.
“I just don’t really know at this point,” he said. “When we get back from D.C., I’ll sit down with my parents.”
In addition to UNLV, Williams-Goss was being heavily recruited by Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State and Washington before his commitment to the Rebels.
Despite Kruger’s departure, Williams-Goss thinks UNLV still can be prominent nationally.
“I definitely think the players at UNLV are great players,” he said. “Coach Kruger is a great coach, but we can still be a good team with whoever we bring in.”
Walker, a senior point guard at Lincoln County, committed to UNLV on Feb. 15. He planned on signing with the Rebels during his official visit the weekend of April 15 before leaving on a two-year Mormon mission.
“I thought (Kruger) was going to stay. I was pretty much shocked,” Walker said.
Walker said he is waiting for word on who the next coach will be, though he said, “I’m still a Rebel.”
Brigham Young associate head coach Dave Rice is considered among the leading candidates to replace Kruger.
UNLV beat BYU to the punch in offering a scholarship to Walker, but Rice long has been interested in the 5-foot-11-inch sharpshooter. He attended a Lincoln County game in December 2009 to watch Walker score 42 points in a victory over Enterprise (Utah).
“If (Rice) still wants me, if he gets the job, that’d be good,” Walker said. “He seems like a real guy, always straightforward. I just really like him.”
Walker took first-team PARADE All-America honors last season after averaging 36.2 points and becoming the state’s all-time leader in points (3,304) and assists (887).
Muhammad, a blue chip swingman, spearheads an ultra-talented crop of juniors at Bishop Gorman that includes forwards Rosco Allen and Ben Carter. All three players had been offered scholarships by Kruger.
“It was a major surprise seeing Coach Kruger leave,” Muhammad said. “I was considering UNLV.”
Muhammad said UNLV probably will remain in the mix, though he is waiting to see what transpires with the coaching search.
Muhammad called his recruiting process “open,” but said he is considering offers from such heavyweights as Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, Kansas and Washington.
Many have speculated that hiring Rice could help develop a local pipeline for recruiting, as his brother, Grant, is Gorman’s coach. Former Gorman guard Anson Winder signed with BYU in 2009.
Grant Rice could not be reached for comment.
Though Muhammad said local players hold Dave Rice in high esteem, he said Gorman players will make their college commitments on their own terms.
“It’s about what schools fit us,” he said.
Muhammad is in Houston to play in the All-American Championship at 1:45 p.m. Sunday. The game will be streamed live by ESPN3.com.
For seniors, the NCAA’s spring signing period begins April 13.
UNLV’s lone signee in November was Grandy Glaze, a 6-6 forward from Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass.
NOTE — Oxnard (Calif.) College freshman guard Marcus Falley, a 2009 graduate of Durango High School, has committed to Pacific and plans to sign with the Tigers this month, Durango coach DeShawn Henry said.
Falley, a third-team all-state selection as a Durango senior, played one season at prep school Mt. Zion Academy (N.C.) before transferring to Oxnard College.