ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico is one of four schools partnering with Nike to wear turquoise jerseys to bring awareness to Native American Heritage Month.
The Lobo men’s basketball team, which held its annual open practice and autograph session at Laguna Acoma High School on Tuesday as it has done the past six seasons, will wear the specially designed jerseys in their Nov. 30 home game against San Diego.
The other three schools wearing turquoise jerseys are Oregon State, Florida State and Nevada. Nevada is the lone school to also use the turquoise jerseys for its women’s team.
The project is part of the Nike N7 Fund. According to Nike, “N7 is Nike’s commitment to bring sport and all of its benefits to Native American and Aboriginal communities in the United States and Canada.” The company in a news release states its goal is to bring awareness to “how Native youth can lead physically active lifestyles to be a positive force of change for future generations.”
UNM has used turquoise in its jerseys in the past, though not regularly for several decades.
Fashion variations seem to be the norm for Lobo hoops since Craig Neal took the job in April.
Aside from Neal wearing a leather jacket for his Harley-Davidson entrance at the Oct. 18 Lobo Howl and wearing the traditional cherry blazer at Saturday’s regular-season opener, the team has had new looks at every turn.
First, the team had specially made Australian-themed jerseys they wore for three exhibition games in Australia in August. Then, in two preseason exhibitions, the team’s jerseys had names on the back, something that didn’t happen for the six previous seasons. The names on the jerseys were gone for Saturday’s regular season opener, but that was because the team wore specially designed camouflage jerseys that were auctioned off for charity. UNM raised $5,920 and gave half to the Wounded Warrior Project and the other half to the UNM Veterans Resource Center.
WOODEN WATCH: UNM senior guard Kendall Williams and junior center Alex Kirk on Tuesday were named to the top 50 watch list for the John Wooden Award given to the nation’s top basketball player.
Williams and Kirk are the only two players from the Mountain West Conference on the early list and four regular-season opponents of the Lobos join them: Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick and three Kansas Jayhawks in Joel Embiid, Wayne Selden, Jr. and Andrew Wiggins.
There were 11 teams with multiple players on the list, led by No. 1 Kentucky with four.
A midseason list will cut the list to 20 players and the Wooden All-American team will consist of 10 players and be presented in April.
MWC AWARD: The first Mountain West Player of the Week honor went to Fresno State sophomore guard Marvelle Harris after he scored a career-high 30 points in the Bulldogs’ 98-97 overtime road win at UC-Irvine last week. It’s the first career player of the week award for Harris.