When former UNLV guard Kris Clyburn finished his UNLV career, it ended months of intense pressure as one of just two senior guards on the Runnin’ Rebel roster. Now, just months after finishing his final season at the Thomas & Mack, Clyburn returns for the 2019 NBA Summer League as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks.
The 23-year-old guard was not drafted in last month’s NBA Draft but he was invited to join the Bucks, a team that’s feature more than a few former Rebels over the years, including Christian Wood and Brandon McCoy. Wood, in fact, signed a deal with the Bucks following the summer league. Wood was waived by the Bucks in March.
McCoy was the big name who went undrafted last year when he left UNLV after just one season. Clyburn, on the other hand, stuck around and finished the final three years of his career under former UNLV coach Marvin Menzies, who was fired at season’s end before being hired as the associate head coach at Grand Canyon University.
Clyburn played well as a senior, leading the Rebels to a respectable 17-14 record while averaging 14.1 points per game and 5.3 rebound per game. He also led the team in minutes per game, averaging more than 31 minutes every time out. The left-handed gunner was arguably the team’s most valuable player before graduating.
When Kris Clyburn hit the draft circuit this spring when the season ended, he worked to showcase his ability to do the little things. Knowing it’s an uphill battle as an undrafted player, he set his sights on standing out by way of efficiency and leadership.
“Show them I can do a lot of the little things, a lot of the intangibles,” Clyburn said. “Play defense, score, pass, anything that can get their attention. Show them that I’m not just a one dimensional player.”
Clyburn is the only former Rebel listed on the NBA’s Vegas Summer League roster list in 2019. He is hoping to join Wood and a handful of other former Rebels who latched on with an NBA team following strong summer league performances. Former Runnin’ Rebel Patrick McCaw played in the summer league after being drafted by the Bucks then traded to the Golden State Warriors.
McCaw found a roster spot for the Warriors and, since his summer experience, McCaw has won two NBA titles — one with the Warriors and another again this past season with the Toronto Raptors.
The dream is still alive for Clyburn and Runnin’ Rebel fans in attendance should be excited to see one of their own out on the floor competing against the likes of first overall pick Zion Williamson, who is the big story of the league this summer.
The Bucks opened NBA Summer League play this afternoon with a debut against the Philadelphia 76ers. How much Kris Clyburn will play has yet to be determined but the former Runnin’ Rebel will most certainly take advantage of his minutes on his former home floor. If anyone knows the Thomas & Mack, it’s Clyburn.