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Redshirt sophomore guard Cullen Neal picks up a out of bounds ball Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 at WisePies Arena.
Redshirt sophomore guard Cullen Neal picks up a out of bounds ball Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 at WisePies Arena.

Men's Basketball: Cullen Neal to transfer from UNM

After a season filled with criticism from one segment of the New Mexico fan base, point guard Cullen Neal will transfer from the University, the Athletic Department announced in a email sent Monday morning.

The announcement followed a tumultuous run for Neal in his redshirt sophomore campaign. As the Lobos went 17-15 on the season, Neal finished the season with 12.3 points and a team-high 114 assists.

But his play steadily dropped off during Mountain West play as negative feedback railed against Neal, the head coach's son. At one point this season, head coach Craig Neal said his son had been receiving threats.

Cullen Neal has two more years of eligibility after a redshirt season a year ago, but there is no word where he will transfer.

In the email announcement, Cullen Neal called the move a difficult decision.

"I grew up around the Lobo basketball program and thoroughly enjoyed playing here, especially being able to play in the famous Pit," Neal said in the statement. "I was blessed by being a part of a Mountain West Championship and participating in the NCAA Tournament my freshman season. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to play for my father for two seasons and will miss that in the future. Leaving my teammates, coaches, and all the support staff weighs heavy on my heart. I will miss all of them. I consider Albuquerque my home, and I love the University of New Mexico. I want to thank our great Lobo fans who have encouraged me and supported our team."

A hometown product from Eldorado High School, Neal joined the Lobos three years ago after his father took the head coaching position. Cullen Neal had previously signed a letter of intent with St. Mary's.

Cullen Neal will graduate with a degree in communications, the email stated. He currently holds a 3.8 grade-point average. NCAA rules allow a player to transfer and pursue a graduate degree while maintaining his eligibility, according to the release. As a graduate transfer, he can play immediately.

"My wife and I love our son and respect and support his decision," Craig Neal said. "We are very proud of the thoughtful and deliberative manner by which he came to his decision. As parents we could not be more proud or supportive of our son. Cullen's next team will be getting an outstanding basketball player and an even better person."

The Neal family will not comment further on the transfer, according to the email.

J.R. Oppenheim is the assistant sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men's basketball and women's soccer. Contact him at or on Twitter @JROppenheim.

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