One less local player will be on the Lobos bench this coming basketball season.
At a regularly scheduled mid-summer, program update press conference on Wednesday, UNM men’s basketball coach Paul Weir announced former Valley High School star point guard Anthony Chavez, one of three in-state walk-on players on the Lobos roster to start the offseason, has decided to move on.
“From my conversations, he just wants to be a student,” Weir said. “… I, quite honestly, tried to talk him out of it when we first met. Then as it went down the road, I realized his heart may just not be into this as much as he wanted it to be or me.”
The Journal reached out to Chavez for comment, but he did not respond.
It is unclear if Chavez might pursue playing at another school.
“We wish Anthony all the best,” Weir said. “He’s really a terrific young man.”
SCHEDULE: While it remains close, the Lobos’ full non-conference schedule is still not done, Weir said.
“There’s a lot of programs still trying to finish up their schedules,” Weir said. “I know that because I’m talking to them every day.”
OTHER PLAYER UPDATES: Junior college point guard Keith McGee is “in Albuquerque,” but not yet eligible to join the Lobos, Weir said.
The coach said McGee is still wrapping up summer classes and tentatively put an Aug. 9 timetable on when he might be able to begin workouts.
As for Carlton Bragg, the former Kansas Jayhawk and Arizona Sun Devil who transferred to UNM in January, he is still not being allowed to talk to the media, though he is fully cleared by the NCAA to practice and participate in all team activities.
Weir said the team is still waiting on the NCAA’s decision on a waiver that would allow Bragg to play at the beginning of the season (he’s currently eligible to start playing in December after the fall semester ends) and added that Bragg, the 6-foot-10 power forward who is not listed on the team’s web site, has not yet met the coach’s requirements to play.
“He’s still working through the expectations that I have for him to one day get onto the court,” Weir said.
Bragg was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, at one point finishing a fast break with a ferocious dunk after taking a 50-foot bounce pass through traffic from a sprinting Vance Jackson, another Lobo transfer who sat out last season after being a starter at Connecticut as a freshman.
SPORTS CUTS: Two hours prior to Wednesday’s press conference, Weir posted on his Twitter account a prepared statement addressing recent sports cuts at UNM.
He stated he felt bad for all involved, but it probably wasn’t appropriate for him to insert himself into the discussion too much. But he did say, “I would be remiss, and a poor member of the academic community, if I did not suggest that we keep Title IX and its tenets at the forefront of our dialogue. But my superiors and all the passionate people that make up our entire UNM community need support.”
During the press conference, Tuesday’s comments by UNM football coach Bob Davie were brought up by a reporter and Weir was asked if, as Davie claimed, he was worried his sport might have been one of the ones on the chopping block.
“To be honest with you, I guess I never put a ton of thought into it,” Weir said. “As all that was unfolding, I think a lot of us were just trying to understand what was going on and the implications of what the decisions may be. I’m obviously very, very sorry and I feel awful for the people who are affected. And that’s really all I feel on the topic.”
The Mountain West requires for membership universities field football, volleyball, and men’s and women’s basketball.
SOMEWHERE ELSE: Weir wants to play a regular season or exhibition game each year somewhere outside of Albuquerque, and not including the annual game with rival New Mexico State.
Nothing is set in stone, he said, but said he’s talked to enough fans in Santa Fe, Gallup, Farmington, etc., that people around the state are as passionate about the program as those in Albuquerque are.
“I stole the idea from (New Mexico State University Athletic Director) Mario Moccia, who came here to play games,” said Weir, referring to NMSU playing an annual regular season “home” game in Rio Rancho at the Santa Ana Star Center.
The goal, Weir said, is statewide outreach.
“(We want) to continue to embrace our community and thank different areas of the state of New Mexico and bring Lobo basketball to them instead of always asking them to come to us,” Weir said.
HOWL YES? Weir said he’s open to renewing the Lobo Howl, the preseason, public practice/exhibition event that was discontinued last year after dwindling attendance. The Howl usually has events like a dunk contest, a 3-point contest and involves the UNM women’s team.
RECRUITING SEASON: July isn’t just a hot recruiting period for college coaches looking for players, apparently.
Weir took to Twitter on Wednesday posting a link to an open, full-time marketing position on the UNM jobs web site that will focus on basketball.
Earlier in the day, he mentioned the team has sold 600 new season tickets so far (he said it’s hard to have a good grasp just yet on renewal numbers). He then said there was a marketing position open in athletics that could help the program.
“I think once our marketing department gets more resolved with new staffing, we’ll hopefully be able to make an even bigger push when school starts all the way through up to the beginning of our season.”