There are plenty of new faces on the University of New Mexico men's basketball team, but the search for new talent is always in the works and the squad inked another baller to help bolster its roster next season.
The recruiting season is seemingly never over and head coach Paul Weir and his staff were able to get a commitment for the 2019-20 season when Emmanuel Kuac signed his National Letter of Intent (NLI) to become the team's first projected incoming freshman of the class.
New Mexico has benefitted from recruiting international players, especially with its ability to tap into the Australian pipeline of talent. From Luc Longley to Cameron Bairstow to Hugh Greenwood and now Makauch Maluach — the team has hit on several impact players.
Vladimir Pichuck came to New Mexico by way of Germany and newcomer Karim Ezzedine is a native of Paris, France.
But Weir's reach might help bring in even more of a bevy of new talent from the international ranks. Many people in Albuquerque are probably aware of that Weir is Canadian, but less might know he was an assistant coach for the Canadian Junior National Team that won the gold medal at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017.
That team featured many gifted athletes — including current Duke freshman R.J. Barrett, whose hometown is Mississauga, Ontario. He was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player in 2017.
Kuac was not on that U19 squad, but also has Canadian ties and grew up in Calgary, Alberta. He said in a release that he felt a connection to the players and coaches at UNM and felt like it was a place he could see himself flourishing in.
Deng Camp, a global basketball camp of current NBA player Luol Deng, evaluates Kuac as having a "high motor" and the camp's most explosive player by a head scout. A strong defender with above average ball handling skills and the ability to stretch the defense and knock down 3-pointers appears to be what UNM's head coach is drawn to, and Kuac seems to check all those boxes.
The 6-6 wing, listed as Emmanuel Andrew, attended Kearns High School in Salt Lake City, Utah and is classified as a 4-star recruit according to 247sports.com. This MaxPreps video shows some of Kuac's basketball highlights and how his skills might translate into Weir's style of play.
"Once we got the opportunity to learn more about him and his personality we knew he was the perfect fit for our program," Weir said. "We are ecstatic he chose to become a Lobo."
Deng Camp posted on its website that Kuac will join some other alumni from the camp who have made commitments to the Mountain West Conference. Aguir Agau, Deng Camp USA 2017 MVP, signed with Fresno State and Ed Chang committed to San Diego State, which could make some more interesting matchups since all three players are wings with similar heights.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball and baseball and contributes content for various other sports as well. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.