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Two JC players commit to Lobos

Keith McGee, who just committed to UNM, was voted MVP of the recent NJCAA national tournament. TRAVIS MORISSE/HUTCHNEWS

CORRECTION: An earlier version stated guard Tavian Percy is in the 2019 recruiting class. He is in the 2018 recruiting class.


The past few days epitomized the up-and-down world of college basketball recruiting for the University of New Mexico.

The Lobos coaching staff didn’t get the junior college player who had given them his commitment in December. Then UNM landed two other junior college targets they hadn’t received commitments from until Friday – a point guard who was the MVP of last month’s NJCAA national championship tournament and another big man to address last season’s biggest weakness on the roster.

The Lobos landed a commitment from Keith McGee, a 6-foot-2 freshman point guard from New York who played this past season for South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. They received a letter of intent from 6-9 sophomore forward Karim Ezzeddine, a native of France who played the past two seasons at Northwest Florida State College.

What UNM wasn’t expecting was the flip on his commitment from Isaiah Maurice, the 6-10 sophomore forward who started his career at Kansas State, played at South Plains College this past season and in December told the Lobos staff he would join them for the 2018-19 season.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal on Friday reported Maurice is on an official recruiting visit with the Memphis Tigers and new coach Anfernee Hardaway.

McGee, meanwhile, was on an official recruiting visit in Albuquerque last weekend and posted on his Twitter account: “I want to thank God, my family, coaches and teammates. It was a tough decision to make, but with that being said I would (sic) to announce that I’m committing to the University of New Mexico. Go Lobos.”

McGee scored 20 points and had four assists in last month’s NJCAA national championship game in Hutchinson, Kan., and had 24 points and four assists in the semifinal win en route to being named the tournament’s MVP. He hadn’t scored 20 in a game prior to the semifinals.

UNM coach Paul Weir can’t comment on recruits until their letters of intent have been received and approved. As of Friday afternoon, UNM said that hadn’t happened yet for McGee.

Ezzeddine is signed and, in a statement put out by UNM’s sports information department, said, “I chose UNM because I had a great feeling with coach (Paul) Weir and coach (Brandon) Mason. I feel really comfortable with coach Weir’s philosophy, playing up-tempo and playing mostly four out and one in. My goal is to win, and I think with the squad we have, we will be a real problem in the Mountain West.”

Weir said in the same press release that Ezzeddine is a “hybrid post” that fits the Lobos’ system.

The two commitments would bring UNM to the 13-scholarship limit for 2018-19, assuming there are no more transfers and two players committed but not yet signed do so before the start of the fall semester.

UNM had five scholarships open this offseason as three players (Antino Jackson, Joe Furstinger and Sam Logwood) exhausted their eligibility and two (Jachai Simmons and Connor MacDougall) said they will transfer.

The five new scholarships are expected to be doled out as followed:

SIGNED: Six-foot high school PG Drue Drinnon, four seasons of eligibility; 6-8 junior college forward Tajuan Agee, two seasons of eligibility; Ezzeddine, two seasons of eligibility;

COMMITTED, UNSIGNED: McGee, three seasons of eligibility;

ON CAMPUS, NOT YET ON SCHOLARSHIP: 6-10 forward Carlton Bragg, who played two years at Kansas, transferred to Arizona State and is expected to be placed on scholarship in the summer with two seasons of eligibility, beginning after the fall semester ends in December.

They join 6-9 forward Vance Jackson, a transfer from Connecticut, and 6-5 guard JaQuan Lyle, a transfer from Ohio State, as newcomers for next season. Jackson and Lyle were on scholarship already while sitting out per NCAA transfer rules for Division I transfers. Junior college transfers are not required to sit out when transferring to a D-I program like UNM.

RECRUIT: Tavian Percy, a 6-5 shooting guard and high school senior from Pasadena, Calif., is on an official recruiting visit to UNM this weekend. He is in the 2018 recruiting class.

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