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Labor of love pays off for UNM women’s basketball team

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You might say UNM women’s basketball coach Yvonne Sanchez hit the Labor Day trifecta.

Sanchez and the Lobos picked up three verbal commitments from decorated high school seniors Monday: Emily Lines of Naples, Fla., Jannon Otto of Hesperia, Calif., and Jaisa Nunn of Kirkland, Wash. The three commitments provide scoring, an imposing post player and most of all versatility.

• Lines is a 6-foot-1 wing at First Baptist Academy who filled the stat sheet as a junior last season. She averaged 18.5 points per game, 11.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.5 steals and 4.2 blocks.

• Otto is a 6-1 wing at Oak Hills High School who has averaged a double-double each of the past two seasons. As a junior she poured in 21 points per game, grabbed 10.2 rebounds and averaged 3.9 assists and 4.4 steals.

• Nunn is a 6-3 post at Juanita High School in Seattle-area Kirkland. She averaged 12.1 points per game, 8.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks as a junior last season.

All three players visited Albuquerque during the last two weeks. Lines and Nunn made official campus visits together last weekend.

“New Mexico had been talking to me for about a year,” Lines said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I went out there last February to look around, then made my official visit and really loved the area. It’s a lot different from Florida, but it’s really pretty with the mountains and everything.”

Lines has twice been named Naples Area Player of the Year by the Naples Daily Times. She’s played both post and guard for her prep team but expects to play 2- or 3-guard at UNM.

“College basketball is a different challenge,” she said, “but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Otto has made three visits to Albuquerque in the past year. She attended a home game last season, participated in UNM’s elite camp this summer and returned for an official visit Aug. 22-24. Several online sites including Swish Appeal, an SB Nation women’s basketball blog, reported Otto’s verbal commitment late Monday.

The highly recruited wing was named to the ESPN HoopGurlz 100 Watch List for 2015 grads and is ranked as the No. 10 wing. She is coached by her mother, Kelly Hennessy, at Oak Hills and plays club ball for West Coast Premier.

Otto also has carried a 4.2 grade-point average through her first three years of high school.

Nunn and her family spent nearly as much time exploring UNM’s engineering department as they did the school’s athletic facilities. Jaisa’s father, Greg Nunn, said his daughter attended an engineering class Friday.

“They were actually kind of selfish, but in a good way,” Greg Nunn said. “They told Jaisa that if she’s part of the engineering department, they’ll let the basketball program borrow her. We all liked that.”

Jaisa Nunn plays club ball for Northwest Blazers and was recruited by numerous schools, Greg Nunn said. UNM won out through consistency and what he called a family atmosphere within its program.

“Jaisa’s had some impressive outings against some of the top club teams in the nation,” he said. “Lots of schools line up to talk to you after those games. But New Mexico was there even when she didn’t play her best. That was important to us.”

The three commitments effectively allowed UNM to complete its recruiting for 2015-16 in a single day. The Lobos will have three scholarships available once seniors Antiesha Brown and Ebony Walker exhaust their eligibility.

NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting on unsigned players, but a particularly upbeat Sanchez confirmed Tuesday that UNM is recruiting Lines, Otto and Nunn.

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