Four players are expected to sign National Letters of Intent with the New Mexico men for the 2020-21 basketball season on Wednesday, making official their commitments.
The NCAA’s initial signing period (commonly referred to as the early signing period) begins Wednesday and runs for one week. It is the first opportunity for high school seniors or junior college players to sign binding NLIs for next year’s recruiting class.
Three of the four players expected to sign with UNM – high school seniors in power forward Bayron Matos, point guard Nolan Dorsey and wing Javonte Johnson – already have gone public with their commitments, including interviews with the Journal. Weir says a fourth is also expected, though coaches aren’t allowed to discuss specific recruits or their intentions before they sign with the school.
The Journal has learned the fourth is 7-foot-1 center Assane Ndiaye of Dakar, Senegal, a junior college sophomore playing for Kilgore (Texas) College, where last season he averaged 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just 13.8 minutes per game as a freshman. The Lobos are in need of a shot-blocking presence in the post, and Ndiaye, it would seem, addresses that need.
“Obviously nothing is official until we get letters of intent,” Weir said. “I know kids make verbal commitments and people kind of lock those in. Sometimes those verbal commitments aren’t quite as public. Sometimes kids aren’t as into social media or making big announcements as others, but we are hopeful to have four kids return letters of intent to us – two guards and two bigs. That kind of fits where we’re going and what we wanted to fill on our roster.”
The three players who have already committed told the Journal their plan was to sign on the first day of the signing period. They are:
• Matos, a 6-9 power forward from the Dominican Republic playing this season at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee: “It had to be like a family for me,” Matos told the Journal on Oct. 5. “And having a strong Spanish culture was very important to me.”
• Dorsey, a 6-6 point guard playing for Raleigh (N.C.) Middlebrook High School: “Coach Weir, he really loved my game and really made me feel like I could be a big part of what they do,” Dorsey told the Journal on Oct. 6. “New Mexico has a lot of talent on the roster and play in a really good conference. I can’t wait to get there.”
• Johnson, a 6-6 guard/forward from Colorado Springs Cheyenne Mountain High School: “It felt like home as soon as I stepped on campus,” Johnson told the Journal on Oct. 17. “I felt like the way UNM plays fits my play style exactly. Loved the coaching staff as well as the players on the team and it is a good school for business and that’s what I want to major in.”
UNM should have four, maybe five, scholarships available for next season. Three are from seniors Carlton Bragg, Corey Manigault and JaQuan Lyle, who has not said if he will apply for a medical hardship waiver to regain a season lost in 2018-19 due to an Achilles tear). The fourth opening up will be that of Drue Drinnon, a sophomore point guard who this past weekend announced his intention to transfer.
A possible fifth open scholarship is that of Vance Jackson. Though only a junior, Jackson tested the pro waters this past offseason and has a very real chance after this season to turn pro or be eligible as a graduate transfer immediately eligible to play for another Division I program.