Mike Bradbury was not necessarily all smiles during the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team’s Wednesday practice, but it didn’t take much to brighten his mood.
Asking about the Lobos’ recruiting class for next season did the trick.
The Lobos received five signed national letters of intent Wednesday, a collection that appears well worth smiling about. UNM’s recruiting class received two top-20 rankings from national scouting services and was rated the best by far among Mountain West Conference programs.
“I haven’t had a class like this since I’ve been a head coach, not even close,” said Bradbury, who is starting his second season at New Mexico after nine combined at Wright State and Morehead State. “Honestly, this is one of the highest-ranked classes ever in the Mountain West. I feel great about it.”
UNM’s class was ranked 19th nationally by ESPNW/Hoopgurlz and 15th according to PASS (Preferred Athlete Scouting Service). New Mexico was the only non-Power 5 program ranked among ESPNW’s top 20, which is all the service ranks. PASS lists its top 75 programs and ranked UNM as the only non-Power 5 squad among its top 29 (Princeton was No. 30). UNLV was the only other Mountain West team to crack the rankings at No. 73.
“It’s exciting to come in ahead of so many Power 5 schools,” Bradbury said, “and I feel like having a full year-and-a-half to recruit here made a big difference. It takes time to build relationships with recruits, especially the top kids.”
Combo guard Jayla Everett was the Lobos’ highest-rated signee, No. 65 overall according to ESPNW evaluator Dan Olson. The 5-foot-11 Everett, who averaged 17 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals as a junior, led Kirkwood High School to a Class 5A state title in Missouri. Everett had offers from numerous Power 5 schools but committed to UNM after a campus visit last month.
Visiting on the same weekend was 6-1 forward Shaiquel McGruder from Ohio’s Trotwood-Madison High School. McGruder, who averaged 11.7 points and 11.1 rebounds last season, was ranked No. 121 overall by Olson. She committed to UNM on the same day as Everett.
“That was a really good day for us,” Bradbury said.
The Lobos also added a pair of high school seniors from Texas. Quincy Noble is a 5-10 guard from McKinney High School who averaged 17 points, 6-1 rebounds and hit 42 3-pointers as a junior. Bre’Asiajah Mathews is a 6-1 guard/forward from Lakeview Centennial High who averaged 18.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.9 steals last season. Noble and Mathews are ranked Nos. 210 and 194 overall, respectively, by Olson.
The final member of UNM’s recruiting class is former Gallup High standout Ni’Asia McIntosh, who is currently a sophomore at New Mexico Junior College. A 6-1 forward, McIntosh has averaged 17 points in NMJC’s first two games this season. At Gallup she averaged 23 points and 19 rebounds per game for her career. Olson ranked McIntosh 33rd among JC recruits.
The recruiting class — along with junior transfer Aisia Robertson, who will be eligible in 2018-19 — gives UNM a full roster for next season. The Lobos will lose four seniors (Cherise Beynon, Tesha Buck, Alex Lapeyrolerie and Laneah Bryan) after this season and UNM currently has one unfilled scholarship.