The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team signed yet another player to its program this offseason.
Najala Howell, who played the last three years at UTEP, made the decision to become a Lobo, UNM head coach Mike Bradbury announced on Wednesday. Howell will have to sit out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
“I chose New Mexico because this program is the perfect fit for me,” Howell said, according to a press release. “I'm excited because it's been a long time coming, and I know for a fact that nothing but blessings are coming this way for me and for the Lobos.”
Howell, a 5-10 guard/forward, played and started in all 31 of UTEP’s games last season. She averaged 11.9 points per game, which was the second most of any player on her team last season. She also averaged 6.3 rebounds and shot 82.4 percent from the free throw line last season.
Bradbury said that Howell is a good fit for his team, as she can play pretty much anywhere, while also acting as a scoring threat.
“Naj is a great athlete that will be a great scorer for us as soon as she steps on the floor. She is a very versatile player that can play anywhere on the perimeter,” Bradbury said, according to a release. “She will also surprise a lot of people with how good of a rebounder she will be for us. We're excited that Naj has chosen the Lobos.”
Of the 31 games she appeared in, Howell scored on double figures in 21 of them, including scoring 23 points (a career high) against both UTSA and UC Riverside. She also had a career-high 16 rebounds against FIU last season.
Overall, Howell averaged 7.5 points per game in her three years in El Paso. She appeared in 86 games total, starting 36 of them.
Howell is the third player to sign to UNM this spring, as she joins Australian signee Ahlise Hurst and 6-3 forward Nike McClure, a transfer from Washington State. The Lobos also added four signees last fall, which was rated as the 19th best signing class in the nation, according to ESPNW.
Matthew Narvaiz is a senior sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s and women’s basketball. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.