Former ND Prep star Birch transfers to UNLV

The University of Nevada Las Vegas officially announced the transfer of former Notre Dame Prep forward and McDonald's All-American Khem Birch, several weeks after the Montreal native abruptly left the University of Pittsburgh just 10 games into his college career.

According to reports, Birch was also strongly considering Florida. Last week, Birch's mother Wendy Sparks told ESPN's Dave Telep that Birch would be visiting UNLV, Florida and New Mexico State.

From the University's official athletic program website:

LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - Khem Birch has signed a written offer of financial aid from UNLV and will join the men's basketball program next week, head coach Dave Rice announced Monday.

Birch, a 6-foot-9-inch, 220-pound forward from Montreal, Quebec, is transferring to UNLV from the University of Pittsburgh and may begin practicing with the Runnin' Rebels when the spring semester begins (Tuesday, Jan. 17). He will have to sit out the next two semesters because of NCAA transfer rules and will be eligible to play in games for UNLV after the completion of the Fall 2012 semester. He will be a sophomore during the 2012-13 season with two years of eligibility remaining after that.

"We are excited to have Khem join our program," Rice said. "He is a versatile forward who will be a terrific player in our up-tempo system. He is a dominant defender and a great teammate."

At Pitt, Birch played in 10 games during the Fall 2011 semester as a freshman and made six starts. He averaged 4.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, while shooting 57.1 percent from the field in 15 minutes played per contest. He led the Panthers in rebounding in two games, including a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds in his first career start in a win at Penn on Nov. 25. He was 6-for-8 from the field with three blocks and a steal in 28 minutes played that night.

A McDonald's High School All-American, Birch is a 2011 graduate of Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass. He was selected as a second-team USA Today All-American and averaged 18 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots per game as a senior at Notre Dame Prep for head coach Ryan Hurd. He guided the Crusaders to the title game of the National Prep Championships last season.

In the annual McDonald's All-America Game, which was held at Chicago's United Center in March, Birch played for the West squad and led the team in scoring (15 points), rebounding (10, including nine offensive) and blocked shots (six).

Birch was ranked as the nation's No. 11 recruit and No. 1 power forward by ESPNU in the class of 2011, and he was No. 14 overall by Scout.com and No. 17 by MaxPreps.

Birch joins Bryce Jones, Katin Reinhardt, Daquan Cook and Demetris Morant as Runnin' Rebel newcomers for the 2012-13 season.