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BYU basketball: Associate head coach Dave Rice to take head job at UNLV

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PROVO — BYU associate head coach Dave Rice accepted an offer Sunday to become the new coach at UNLV.

Rice, who spent the past six seasons on the Cougars' bench as coach Dave Rose's top assistant, will be introduced Monday at a 5 p.m. (MT) press conference at the Thomas & Mack Center.

For Rice, 42, it marks a return to his alma mater. A UNLV graduate, Rice was a reserve on the Runnin' Rebel teams that advanced to the Final Four in 1990 and 1991. UNLV won the national championship in 1990.

Later, Rice served as an assistant coach for the Rebels for 11 seasons under Jerry Tarkanian, Tim Grgurich, Billy Bayno and Charlie Spoonhour. He spent one season on the staff at Utah State before arriving at BYU in 2005.

"He's very deserving of an opportunity to be a head coach," Rose said of Rice last week. "It's my personal opinion that he'll be a terrific head coach. Whoever decides to make that decision and hire him, whether it's this year or next year or some other time, they'll have themselves a great future because I have a lot of faith in him. Dave and (wife) Mindy are great friends of ours and we'd hate to see them leave. But if it's for an opportunity that they think it's great for them and their career, we'll support them 100 percent."

Rice was among four candidates that interviewed for the position, along with Minnesota Timberwolves assistant Reggie Theus, former Oregon coach Ernie Kent, and St. John's assistant Mike Dunlap.

Rice will replace Lon Kruger, who left UNLV on April 1 to take the job at Oklahoma.

Of course, Rice's departure leaves a big void on the BYU coaching staff, as Rice has been coordinating the team's offense and recruiting efforts.

Among the candidates to replace Rice include former Cougar Austin Ainge, who is currently the head coach of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA's Developmental League; Quincy Lewis, who played for Rose at Dixie State College and has guided Lone Peak High to four state championships; and former Wyoming coach Heath Schroyer, who served as a BYU assistant with Rose under Steve Cleveland a decade ago. Another possibility is the Cougars' director of basketball operations Mike Hall, another former BYU player.

Email: jeffc@desnews.com