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Former Lobo, Clayton Shields, Will Lead Gallup's ABA Team

By Mike Hall
Associate Sports Editor
    On Dec. 16, 1995, Clayton Shields hit one of the biggest shots in the state's basketball history— a 55-foot buzzer-beater that gave UNM a 69-68 win at New Mexico State.
    "That was almost 10 years ago," Shields recalled Thursday. "My gosh, I think my muscles just got sore that was so long ago."
    Shields is back on the New Mexico basketball scene. He was announced Thursday as the head coach of the Gallup Talons, a new entry into the American Basketball Association— a minor professional basketball league.
    Since leaving UNM in 1998, Shields has played professionally in Italy, Cypress, Belgium, Portugal and Australia.
    "I didn't have the pro career like I would have liked to had," said Shields, who averaged 14.4 points and 5.9 rebounds while starting 123 of the 128 games he played as a Lobo.
    "But what I got was a better understanding of the professional game," Shields continued. "That will help me so much now that I'm getting into coaching. That's what I wanted to do when I finished. It's time to put it into effect."
    Gallup will play in an ABA division that tentatively will include Santa Fe, Phoenix, Ciudad Juarez, Colorado Springs, Las Vegas, Nev., and a seventh team to be named.
    The team was awarded to Gallup Herald newspaper editor-publisher Joseph Kolb in December after an attempt to bring a team to Albuquerque failed. The plan is for the team to be no less than 50 percent American Indian.
    Shields is black, but said Kolb, "I'm telling people that, even though we want to showcase Native American players, it's not a quota thing. This is a basketball team, not a racial, social-type thing."
    Shields, 29, has spent the last year as a substitute teacher in the Albuquerque Public Schools system.
    "Over the last five years I've been developing coaching philosophies," he said.
    He said the Talons will be "very up-tempo, up and down, pressure, pressure, pressure. ... Lots of easy buckets, make the defense turn into an offense."
    Kolb said he heard of Shields' interest in getting into coaching from Menaul boys coach Kelvin Scarborough, also a former Lobo.
    "Our goal was the find a coach who was not only a household name to many in New Mexico, but somebody who would relate well to fans and the unique demographic of Gallup," Kolb said. "His reputation precedes him."
    Kolb would not reveal Shields' salary, saying only that, "Nobody is getting rich doing this. He will be doing something to supplement his income."