The University of New Mexico has added seven new players to the men’s basketball roster this year, alongside a contract extension to men’s basketball Head Coach Richard Pitino until the 2027-28 season.
Pitino has helped the Lobos achieve a 20-win season last year – the best since 2014 – and a postseason appearance.
Last year, the Lobos finished with a 8-10 record within the Mountain West conference, making it two games in the MW Tournament before losing to Utah State.
UNM has signed three guards, three forwards and one center. This leaves half of the roster remaining from last season.
Guards Shane Douma-Sanchez and Tru Washington are both freshmen, and Jermal Baker Jr. is a transfer from Fresno State University.
Transfers Baker Jr., Mustapha Amzil and Isaac Mushila all had high minutes from their prior teams. Amzil had 19 starts with about 30 minutes per game, Baker Jr. had 28 starts with 31.8 minutes and Mushila had 33 starts with 27.1 minutes per contest.
Amzil averaged 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game with 44.2 % shooting. Baker Jr. averaged 12.5 points, 3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while shooting 39.2 % and Mushila averaged 14.5 points, about 10 rebounds per game on 53.7% from the field.
Forwards Deraje Agbaosi, Amzil and Mushila are all transfers. Amzil is from the University of Dayton, Agbaosi is from the University of North Alabama and Mushila transferred from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
The Lobos also brought in four-star recruit freshman JT Toppin – the reigning 4A Texas player of the year.
The center transfer Nelly Junior Joseph is from Iona University. He started in all 35 games that Iona played.
With the addition of Joseph, there will be a dedicated center starter for the Lobos and more defense at the rim. Last season at Iona, he averaged 14.9 points, grabbed 9.3 boards, 1.5 blocks and shot 55% from the field.
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He also played against the eventual NCAA tournament champs, playing the University of Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season. UConn ended up winning and taking home the National Championship for March Madness.
With a new backcourt of Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr., the Lobos can expect great scoring and great on-ball defense at the perimeter. House was ranked second in the nation for steals, averaging 2.69 steals per game last season.
Mashburn was named first Team All-Mountain West by coaches with 19.1 points and 2.1 assists per game. House was named to the second Team All-Mountain West with 16.9 points and 4.7 assists per game. Both were named to the All-preseason team going into this season.
With the departure of KJ Jenkins, sophomore Donovan Dent will step into the sixth man role for the guards. Last season, he averaged 5.6 points per game and 2.3 assists. Dent was a menace on defense, being second in the team in steals and third in blocks.
If the Lobos follow a starting lineup of three guards and two forwards like last season, Pitino will have a tough decision for who will be starting and who will come off the bench for the first couple of games.
The Lobos will have their first exhibition game against Colorado State University, Pueblo at The Pit on Oct. 26.
Ryan Grossetete is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached with firstname.lastname@example.org