ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico on Sunday picked up another commitment for the recruiting class of 2014, putting the Lobos one over the allowed scholarship limit for the coming men’s basketball season.
Samford transfer Tim Williams, a 6-foot-8 power forward, was the 2013 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year. He averaged 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds agame this past season as a sophomore at the Birmingham, Ala., school.
“It was a great fit and I just felt like in my heart that was where I belong,” Williams told the Journal on Sunday about his decision to become a Lobo.
Williams will have to sit out the 2014-15 season per NCAA transfer rules and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after that.
The Chicago native and his parents were on a recruiting visit two weeks ago in Albuquerque. He was also being courted by the likes of Iowa and Dayton, among others.
He said he left Samford because he he wanted a bigger challenge.
“I just wanted to give myself an opportunity to play at a bigger school and hopefully have the same success at a higher level,” Williams said.
The low-post forward was one of the Southern Conference’s top players the past two seasons.
“I think I’m pretty good around the basket and in the mid-range area,” Williams said of his ability on the court. “I can do some things off the bounce a little bit and create for other players.”
Williams’ former Samford teammate Michael Bradley, a 6-10 center, was a former teammate of current Lobo wing Deshawn Delaney at Vincennes College in Indiana.
The addition of Williams to the UNM roster puts the team over the scholarship limit of 13. That is something the Lobos will have to work out before the fall semester begins in late August, but have not yet commented on publicly.
UNM lost seven players (six on scholarship) from its 2013-14 roster: Cameron Bairstow, Kendall Williams and Chris Perez (walk-on) to exhausted eligibility; Alex Kirk, who left with a season of eligibility remaining to pursue an NBA career; and Cleveland “Pancake” Thomas, Nick Banyard and Tim Myles to transfers.
Williams is the seventh scholarship player to join the 2014 Lobo recruiting class to go along with preferred walk-ons Tim Jacobs and Adam Cumber. Jacobs, a point guard from Cochise College in Arizona, led the Oñate Knights to the 2011 New Mexico Class 5A basketball championship. Cumber is a former Sandia High guard.
The Lobos have also locked up for the 2014-15 season high school seniors Xavier Adams, a 6-5 guard from Flower Mound, Texas, and Joe Furstinger, a 6-8 forward from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.; junior college All-American Jordan Goodman, a 6-9 small forward from Harcum College in Pennsylvania; J.J. N’Ganga, a 6-10 center from Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa junior college; and 6-9 New Zealand power forward Tohi Smith-Milner.
Smith-Milner is home in New Zealand playing with his country’s national team in preparation for the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup. Should he qualify to attend UNM this fall, the Lobos would have to take a scholarship away from one of the 13 other players on their roster before the fall semester begins.
It is unclear when a decision on Smith-Milner’s eligibility will be made by the NCAA or UNM.