UNLV MEN’S BASKETBALL NEWS: Khem Birch Will Declare For NBA Draft




Runnin’ Rebel junior forward was two-time MW Defensive Player of the Year and finished second in the nation in blocks this season

UNLV men’s basketball junior forward Khem Birch will forgo his senior season and declare for the 2014 NBA Draft, head coach Dave Rice said Thursday.

Birch averaged a double-double with 11.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, and led the Mountain West and was second in the nation in blocks with 3.8 per contest during the 2013-14 season. His total of 124 blocks this year set the school’s all-time seasonal record by 12 and he finished his Runnin’ Rebel career (192) two blocks shy of the UNLV all-time career mark of 194. He also had 17 double-doubles this season, which ranked eighth in the country.

“I loved playing here at UNLV for Coach Rice and with my teammates,” Birch said. “After talking at length with my family, I have decided to pursue my professional career. It was a tough decision, one that I thought about for a very long time. I will finish my classes this semester and I will be a Runnin’ Rebel for life.”

Birch shot 51.0 percent (125-for-245) from the field and 69.3 percent (131-for-189) from the free-throw line this season. He was second on the team in scoring and second in rebounding. In his two seasons as a Runnin’ Rebel he was twice named the MW’s Defensive Player of the Year and was a second-team all-conference selection this year after being named honorable mention as a sophomore.

“I loved coaching Khem for the last two years,” Rice said. “He is a hard worker and a gifted player. We appreciate all of his contributions to UNLV and support him 100 percent in this decision. We wish him great success as a professional.”

Birch, originally from Montreal, Quebec, transferred to UNLV from Pittsburgh during the 2011-12 season. He became eligible to play for the Runnin’ Rebels after the Fall 2012 semester after sitting out two semesters at UNLV.

Birch is the second Runnin’ Rebel to declare for the NBA Draft this year, as junior forward Roscoe Smith announced his intentions on April 4.

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