Ni’Asia McIntosh feels like she has unfinished business at the Pit. Turns out she’ll have a chance to address it.
McIntosh, who sparked Gallup High School to back-to-back Class 5A championship games in 2015 and ’16, has committed to play for the UNM women’s basketball team beginning in 2018-19. The 6-foot guard/forward will play her sophomore season at New Mexico Junior College this season before joining the Lobos as a transfer.
“I’ve been watching UNM games and going to the Pit ever since I was a kid,” McIntosh said. “I enjoyed playing there a lot, too. The size of the facility and the number of people who come to games, it’s a great environment.”
McIntosh has excelled under the Pit’s bright lights, particularly in big moments. In consecutive state championship games she racked up 23 points and 14 rebounds against Los Lunas (2015) and finished with 26 points, 18 boards against Roswell (2016).
From McIntosh’s perspective, there was only one down side: Gallup ended up on the losing end both times.
“I want to write a better ending (at the Pit),” McIntosh said.
Still, McIntosh posted remarkable numbers for the Bengals, averaging 23 points and 19 rebounds for her entire prep career. She played center at Gallup, making the most of an impressive knack for rebounding, and didn’t entirely escape playing in the paint at NMJC last season.
“They actually have me go inside a lot,” said McIntosh, who averaged 8.9 points and 5.0 rebounds as a freshman for the Thunderbirds (21-7). “I’m working on playing facing the basket right now because I’ll probably be a guard/small forward at UNM. I’ve always been one of the tall players, but I’ll probably feel pretty short when I get there.”
McIntosh visited UNM’s campus in late June and announced her decision to become a Lobo via Facebook. McIntosh, who has a “real good number” of family members and friends in Gallup, said proximity was a big factor in her decision.
“I had other looks,” she said, “but I didn’t want to go anywhere too far away. Even Hobbs is a long way from Gallup and I really want my family to be there to watch me play.”
Lobo coach Mike Bradbury confirmed UNM is recruiting McIntosh but NCAA rules prohibit coaches from otherwise commenting on unsigned players. But McIntosh’s addition only figures to help attendance as Gallup High School basketball fans are among the state’s most fervent.
“People have been telling me they’re going to pack the Pit again when I get there,” McIntosh said with a laugh.
McIntosh also is looking forward to reuniting with a player who helped spoil her final prep game at the Pit: Jaedyn De La Cerda. The latter scored 34 points in Roswell’s victory over Gallup in the 2016 state final, but McIntosh and De La Cerda also played club basketball together. De La Cerda will be a freshman with the Lobos this fall.
“We’re good friends now,” McIntosh said. “Jaedyn actually helped me make arrangements to visit UNM. I’m looking forward playing with her.”