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Lobos get commitment from junior college point guard

Saquan Singleton, center, was named to the 2020 All-Region VI second team on March 26 after averaging 11.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game this past season for Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College. (Courtesy of Hutchinson CC Sports Information Department)

The Lobos backcourt got a little help Monday.

Saquan Singleton, a 6-foot-6 sophomore point guard from Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College announced he will attend UNM and play for Paul Weir this coming season.

The Bronx native made his decision known Monday afternoon through a video posted on his social media accounts, choosing the Lobos over four other finalists who had offered him a scholarship: Alabama (SEC), Kansas State (Big 12), Pacific (West Coast Conference) and TCU (Big 12).

“It’s been a long process and a long decision, really sitting down with my family,” Singleton said in a video made for the announcement posted to various social media accounts. “I finally made a decision. I will be attending the Pit — the University of New Mexico. Go Lobos.”

Singleton, a pass-first point guard, was named to the 2020 All-Region VI second team on March 26 after averaging 11.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game this past season for the Blue Dragons.

He started 62 of the 66 games he played in junior college. In 32 games this past season, all starts, he attempted only one 3-pointer all season, but still managed 22 games scoring in double digits for Hutchinson, including one triple-double and several more double-doubles.

Saquan Singleton (Courtesy of Hutchinson CC Sports Information Department)

“I think the numbers show it, he’s not a great shooter, but he can get to the basket. He’s a typical New York City guard,” said Hutchinson assistant coach, and New Jersey native, Jay Cyriak. “… Because of his size — he’s 6-6 and a real long 6-6 at that — he guarded the 1 through 4 for us and can be used in a lot of ways. He’s a leader. He gets fouled a lot. And he’s a fan favorite. He’s got a flare to his game — a real New York type of game. …

“And after every game, he never asked about how many he scored. He always wanted to know how many assists he had.”

While Weir was heavily involved throughout the past season in the recruiting of Singleton, the lead recruiting was done by Lobos assistant Dan McHale. A New Jersey native himself, McHale has past connections while an assistant at Seton Hall and Iona who are now mentors and past coaches of Singleton.

“Trust is a big thing for Saquan,” Cyriak said. “He felt the fit and the trust with UNM and the way they handled the recruiting — it was just all positive recruiting. Never anything negative about other schools. They just talked about New Mexico. They did it the right way and I think that meant a lot to Saquan.”

Last week, point guard J.J. Caldwell announced he is transferring from UNM, though his future with the program was in question anyway after playing just 13 games in the 2019-20. UNM’s other primary point guard much of the past season, JaQuan Lyle, exhausted his eligibility, leaving plenty of opportunity at the point for the Lobos.

The modern recruiting era for college basketball now extends well into the summer and, based on numbers from the past couple seasons, there are likely still well over 100 more Division I players expected to enter the transfer portal at some point in the coming months. That means UNM, and all other programs, continue to recruit for the coming season and beyond.

The NCAA’s National Signing period is April 15, when Singleton can sign his National Letter of Intent. UNM coaches can publicly comment about him then.

For now, Singleton’s verbal commitment means UNM is down for 12 of its possible 13 scholarships for the 2020-21 season accounted for: eight returning players and four newcomers.

UNM’s eight scholarship players returning (classification for next season): Seniors Makuach Maluach, Zane Martin and Keith McGee; juniors Vante Hendrix and Tavian Percy; sophomores Emmanuel Kuac and Kurt Wegscheider; and freshman Bayron Matos. Walk-ons Clay Patterson, Daniel Headdings and Jordan Arroyo are all expected to return, as well.

UNM’s four committed scholarship recruits include junior college transfers Singleton and 7-1 center Assane Ndiaye from Senegal who played this past season at Kilgore College in Texas and incoming freshmen Javonte Johnson from Colorado and Nolan Dorsey from North Carolina.

Saquan Singleton (1) started 62 of the 66 games he played in junior college at Hutchinson. (Courtesy of Hutchinson CC Sports Information Department)

GRAD TRANSFER OF ANOTHER KIND: It was a graduate transfer announcement many Lobo hoops fans never saw coming.

On Monday, Arizona State’s “Bud” Selig Sports Law and Business Program posted on Twitter its newest addition: UNM senior manager Andrew Lipin.

Lipin spent the past four years as a manager for the Lobo men’s basketball program and was honored in late February on senior night. As the ASU tweet states, he “has dreams of working in the NBA.”

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