Expectations haven’t dipped. If anything they’ve gotten higher.
The University of New Mexico’s 2018 women’s basketball recruiting class recently polished off a season that effectively backed up its impressive national ratings.
The Lobos signed four high school seniors and one junior college transfer for 2018-19 and most of the incoming players padded their résumés between signing day mid-March. UNM must replace four key seniors from a team that finished 25-11 but coach Mike Bradbury does not expect to endure a rebuilding season anytime soon.
“Not at all,” Bradbury said. “We’ve got some good players returning, (transfer) Aisia Robertson had a good transfer year, and I’m excited about our recruiting class. It may take us a while to put the pieces together but we’ve got some really good ones.”
UNM’s recruiting class was ranked 15th and 19th nationally by respective scouting services ESPNW/Hoopgurlz and PASS (Preferred Athlete Scouting Service) in November. New Mexico was the only non-Power Conference school on ESPNW’s top-20 listing and one of just two among the top 30 according to PASS. (Princeton was 30th).
The Lobos’ highest-rated signee was combo guard Jayla Everett, who was ranked No. 65th overall in the 2018 class by ESPNW evaluator Dan Olson. Everett’s stock has since risen.
A 5-foot-11 senior, Everett led Kirkwood High School (28-3) to a second-straight Missouri Class 5 state championship. She averaged 16.9 points and 3.9 assists per game and was named Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 5 Player of the Year.
Meanwhile, Lobo recruit Shaiquel McGruder enjoyed a breakout senior season in Ohio. The 6-2 post led Trotwood-Madison (21-3) to a berth in the sectional finals and averaged 25.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. She was a first-team member of the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association’s All-Ohio Division II team.
“Jayla and Shai had great years,” Bradbury said. “We expect them both to compete for playing time right away.”
Quincy Noble, a 5-10 guard from Texas’ McKinney High School, also had a strong season. She averaged 16.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.7 steal to help McKinney (26-11) reach round two of the Class 6A state tournament.
UNM’s other two recruits, Bre’Asiajah Mathews and Ni’Asia McIntosh, had promising seasons end early. Mathews, a 6-foot wing, averaged 17.3 points in limited action at Texas’ Lakeview-Centennial High.
McIntosh, a Gallup High alum in her second year at New Mexico Junior College, suffered a knee sprain that forced her to miss the Thunderbirds’ final five games. Prior to the injury, the 6-1 forward averaged 13.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game for NMJC (31-4).
“Ni’Asia’s injury kept her out a couple weeks but it was pretty minor,” Bradbury said. “She and Bre’Asiajah are still on track to be here ready to go this summer.”
UNM has one scholarship open for next season after sophomore Mykiel Burleson announced this week she intends to transfer to another school. Bradbury said he has several players scheduled to make campus visits this spring but he is not sure if UNM will fill its open scholarship for 2018-19.