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November 21, 2010

Stanback geared for a breakout season

Anytime a player is selected as California's player of the year, it goes without saying that they can score. As a senior for Fairfax high school, Chace Stanback averaged nearly 26 points per game while hauling down almost 12 rebounds per game. His play earned him numerous regional, state and national awards.

As such, Stanback stayed local and took his talent to the UCLA Bruins. As a freshman, Stanback saw very little time for UCLA's Final Four squad. Averaging under 2 points and 6 minutes per game, Stanback found Ben Howland's slow down, grind out out, methodical style to go against the grain of his own free flowing style.

Stanback didn't need to look further than 285 miles east to find a new home. UNLV was in the process of building a reputation as an up and comer in the west. The proximity of Las Vegas to his own hometown didn't hurt UNLV's case, either. But what probably had the biggest impact is UNLV's success with division 1 transfers. It all added up to what seemed like a perfect match.

After sitting out the first year due to NCAA regulations, Stanback didn't start out blazing the nets for the 2009-10 Runnin' Rebels. It was a young team with many new parts and it took time for squad to develop any fluidity. Major injuries and challenges in depth also slowed the progress.

Stanback started out slowly. It wasn't until the eighth game of the season, a thrashing at the hands of Kansas State, that the talented forward hit double digit scoring. As the season wore on, Stanback became more and more comfortable, as did the rest of the team. Stanback tallied back to back 19 point games against TCU and Colorado State on the road. A month later, he went for a then career high 21 points at Air Force. He finished the season with eight consecutive games in which he broke into double digit scoring. During that stretch, he drained just below 40% of his attempts from beyond the three point arc.

Brimming with confidence, Stanback hit the ground running for the 2010-11 Runnin' Rebels. Though he had to sit out the first half of both exhibition games, he managed to light up Washburn University for 23 points in just 13 minutes of action. He followed that up with 17 points in just 24 minutes in the season opener against UC-Riverside. He tallied only 10 points on six attempts from the floor in 22 minutes in the second game against Southeast Louisiana.

The first big test of the season for the Rebels ended up being Stanback's finest to date. Facing #25 Wisconsin, Stanback scored 17 of his career high 25 points in the second half of a nip-and-tuck affair that could have gone either way. His 20-foot jumper from the left baseline with 54 seconds remaining gave the Rebels a 66-65 lead.

For the early season, Stanback leads the Rebels in scoring at 17.3 points per game. He's hit on 56.3% of his shots from the floor, including 40.0% from three point range.

Though some of the increased production is due to the unavailability of last year's leading scorer, Tre'Von Willis, Stanback has shown the confidence and skills to be a major force for the Rebels. When Willis returns to full speed, the lethal duo is going to be tough for anyone to stop.

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