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Five signees lined up for next season

UNM men’s basketball head coach Steve Alford is not a pool enthusiast.
Nonetheless, he keeps aptly pocketing big-time prospects.

The Lobos officially announced their five 2010 signees. Apparently, adding size was chief among UNM’s concerns. To go with its core of guards, the Lobos added complimentary pieces in Tony Snell and Kendall Williams. Williams scored better than 21 points in his final three seasons at Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

More importantly, though, the Lobos most shored up their blaring inadequacy on the block,
adding three players above 6’8” in Alex Kirk, Cameron Bairstow and UCLA transfer Drew Gordon.

UNM avoided those problems for much of the season, relying on big men A.J. Hardeman and Will Brown. Inevitably, the Lobos were exposed in the interior by Montana and Washington during the NCAA tournament. But Kirk, the most-talked-about prospect of Alford’s recruits, will decidedly look to being an intimidating factor down low.

Kirk committed to UNM back in November, with fans and pundits gushing over his high-school domination. If he’s as good as advertised, it’s not unreasonable to consider the Lobos as favorites to repeat as regular-season champions, especially considering they have the core of their team back.

“Alex put up huge numbers this season,” Alford said about the hometown product from Los Alamos. “There were some games where he had 40 (points) and 20 (rebounds). He gives us that big presence that we need. We think Alex will be able to do a lot of things for us very quickly. He is strong with an incredible wingspan.”
Meanwhile, Bairstow will likely draw comparison to ex-Lobo Luc Longley, if only because of his stature and the fact that he’s from Australia. Alford described Bairstow as “a blue-collar, hard-working kid.”

Rounding out the three is Gordon, who enrolled at UNM in Spring 2010. By doing so, he cut down the time he has to sit out because of NCAA rules. By the rule book,
Gordon has to sit out a full year, before playing for the Lobos. But because he transferred mid-year, he’s eligible to participate starting on Dec. 19.
Alford said Gordon might be a backseat occupant of this recruiting class, but by the time he leaves UNM he will be remembered.

“Drew maybe gets forgotten in this class, but he is definitely a headliner,” Alford said. “He brings us a post presence. He’s very explosive inside and a great passing big man. I think he will make an immediate impact.”

Appropriately, the Lobos might just have found their guy to replace swingman Darington Hobson, in the wake of his decision to forego his senior year with UNM and
enter the NBA Draft.

Snell, a 6-foot-7-inch guard from Riverside, Calif., averaged 19.5 points, 10 rebounds and 8.8 assists for Westwind Preparatory Academy in Phoenix, Ariz.
At worst, should Hobson choose to withdraw his name from the pool on May 8, Alford said Snell is a player who can spell Hobson, all while not loosing that multi-skilled facet Hobson brings when he heads to the bench.

“Tony put up nearly triple-double numbers this year,” Alford said. “He is a very versatile guard, a lot like Darington, just a younger version who can play the one, two or three position. He brings a lot of versatility to our backcourt.”

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