UNLV Freshman, Carlos "Yao" Lopez may take a year to get accustomed to the rigors of Division 1 basketball. IPRB learned last week that Lopez has had some difficulty adjusting to the contact and physical play. Lopez is as talented a "big" as there is but his lack of strength and post game may hinder his ability to help UNLV this year. “I think Carlos is doing fine,” UNLV Head Coach Kruger said. “Obviously, he needs strength and he needs weight. That will happen. He has a great feel for it. He’s doing fine. We’re excited about what he’s doing (Las Vegas Sun).
Lopez had a tough summer while representing Puerto Rico on the 19U Team. He got sick in France and lost 10 pounds while playing in a tune up event and struggled at the World Championship in New Zealand. Lopez was the missing piece that Puerto Rico needed to advance into the Semifinals . Puerto Rico struggled at times, having to survive off of shooting three pointers, versus establishing a low post game.
Taking a red shirt year in many cases may be the difference between success and failure as it relates to student athletes adjusting to life in college. The pressure to perform both on and off the court can be overwhelming for many and taking the "on the court" pressure out of the equation allows student athletes to focus on school.
In Lopez's case, he has a language barrier given he didn't speak English three years ago. The NCAA requires a full time student to take a minimum of 12 credits per semester. Lopez could practice with the team and use the extra time to focus on keeping up academically.