All in all, it was a rough Saturday for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team.
In the morning, UNM coach Mike Bradbury released a statement announcing that sophomore guard Jayla Everett is transferring out of the program.
In the afternoon, the short-handed, cold-shooting Lobos were roughed up by UNLV, 68-51, at Dreamstyle Arena before an announced turnout of 5,326. The taller, more physical Rebels outrebounded UNM by a 58-28 landslide.
The game result, however, seemed secondary as New Mexico parted ways with Everett, last season’s Mountain West freshman of the year. She became the third player to leave since the 2019-20 season started. Senior transfers Bride Kennedy-Hopoate and Najala Howell quit the team in early December.
By mid-Saturday afternoon, about the time her former teammates were in action, Everett tweeted thanks to UNM and Bradbury “for believing in a kid from STL” and later, “UNM and (its) fans will forever hold a place in my heart. With all that being said, it is time for me to see what God has planned for me.”
— JAY (@jayla_dianne4) January 18, 2020
By Saturday evening on UNM’s athletics website, the roster was whittled to 11 players, and the preseason team photo that also included Everett, Kennedy-Hopoate and Howell had been removed.
UNM has provided no explanation for the first two players’ departures, and Bradbury gave few details Saturday about Everett’s early exit. But friction between Everett and UNM’s coaching staff appeared to be building in recent weeks and it apparently came to a head Friday.
Everett, who started 17 of UNM’s first 19 games and averaged 11.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists, spent most of Friday’s practice working with UNM’s scout team and engaged in an extended argument with Bradbury late in the session.
“We had prepared to play without Jayla,” Bradbury said Saturday. “We were off Thursday and she practiced with the scout team (Friday).”
Everett also argued with game officials during UNM’s Jan. 11 game at Air Force and complained when Bradbury substituted for her in the third quarter of Wednesday’s home win over Colorado State. Everett played just 13 minutes in that contest, did not score and heard from fans when she passed up several open shots.
Bradbury conceded things had been simmering between Everett and the coaching staff, but he said she ultimately parted on good terms.
“We had a good talk after (Friday’s) practice,” he said, “and we both thought it might be best for both sides to part ways. Jayla and I are fine. I hope she goes somewhere and is the best player ever. It just won’t be here.”
Everett came to UNM highly recruited from St. Louis and set a program record for points by a freshman (417) last season. Her play was inconsistent this season. She had back-to-back outstanding performances against Providence (21 points) and Loyola Marymount (34) in December but had struggled since, shooting 21.8% (12 for 55) over her last five games combined. At times her frustration became apparent.
“Jayla’s a fiery competitor,” Bradbury said. “It’s what makes her good. Sometimes it’s what makes her bad.”
The drama from the basketball floor spilled over into social media Saturday — including a critical tweet from former Lobo Jayda Bovero, whom Bradbury removed from the team after his first UNM season in 2016-17. Bovero suggested that 20 players and staff members have left the program in three years since Bradbury’s arrival, an unconfirmed total.
To all my New Mexico basketball fans/boosters/supporters/residents have y’all ever wondered why there’s been 20 people leave the wbb program in 3 years? That’s a mix between players and staff members @GeoffGrammer @krqesports @JPtheSportsGuy @KenSickenger @SusanBe23762100
— Jayda Bovero (@JayBov24) January 18, 2020
But a reply to Bovero from Everett’s Twitter account later said, “Don’t include me i left for personal reasons nothing to do with the coaching staff !!” And one of Aisia Robertson’s tweets included, “Misery loves company please don’t entertain this nonsense.”
Don’t include me i left for personal reasons nothing to do with the coaching staff !! https://t.co/NbamdBzyPE
— JAY (@jayla_dianne4) January 18, 2020
Robertson, Jaedyn De La Cerda and Jordan Hosey took to Twitter to defend Bradbury and his staff.
Despite shooting dreadfully (3 for 26 from 3-point range and 26.7% overall), UNM twice managed to trim a 21-point deficit to 11 in the second half. But the home team could not overcome UNLV’s rebounding dominance and uncharacteristically hot (8 for 16) 3-point shooting.
Bradbury conceded that Everett’s departure might have been a distraction but praised his team’s effort.
“We actually won the second half against a team that got every rebound,” he said, “on a day when we missed every shot. It’s difficult to keep playing hard on a day like that but this team did. I’m proud of their fight and effort.”
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