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Lobo hoops bolsters front line with junior college forward

Twitter post of junior college forward Rod Brown, who committed to play for the UNM Lobos for the 2020-2021 season. (Via Brown’s Twitter account)

A much-needed boost of rebounding and defense was injected into the UNM Lobos hoops roster Tuesday.

Rodgerick “Rod” Brown, a 6-foot-7 forward who played his freshman season at Wichita State before playing this past season for 28-0 Pearl River Community College in Mississippi (the team entered the National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament as the No. 1 seed before the event was halted due to COVID-19), on Tuesday made official via social media he is transferring to play for Paul Weir and the Lobos for the 2020-21 season.

Brown, from Memphis, Tennessee, has two years of playing eligibility remaining and, for now, leaves the Lobos with one open scholarship to fill for the coming season.

But as important as the recruiting of Weir and Lobos assistant coach Brandon Mason were in the process, another non-basketball Lobo was apparently the one who deserves the assist on the latest commitment.

“Everything went really good throughout the process, and Dr. Weir and BMase were recruiting him out of high school, too, so we already knew them and had a good relationship. But this time around, it was when the academic advisor came on the phone and talked with us that probably sealed it,” said Mark Hearns, Brown’s guardian and AAU coach, referring to UNM’s Student-Athlete Success Assistant Director Dada Willis-Gregory.

“She hit the grand slam. That’s when we knew. … We had all the pros and cons for each program recruiting Rod laid out on the table, but when she talked about how he was going to get his degree, that was when we knew.”

UNM, like all other programs now, are recruiting mostly by phone and video conferencing. The Lobos have been conducting Facetime tours of Dreamstyle Arena – the Pit and showing all facilities and having them talk to academic advisors like any recruit would normally have available on an in-person visit.

As for on the court, Brown is considered a high-level defender and rebounder who averaged 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game this past season for Pearl River and was a big reason the team set program records for wins and earned his coach there, Chris Oney, National Coach of the Year honors.

At Wichita State as a freshman in the 2018-19 season, Brown played in 36 games and was the primary backup to all-league senior forward Makis McDuffie. In high school in Tennessee, Brown averaged 21 points and 14 rebounds at Cordova High School, located outside of Memphis.

UNM coaches cannot comment on Brown’s commitment until they’ve processed his signed National Letter of Intent.

Brown had signed earlier this offseason with Tulsa, but decommitted and reopened his recruiting shortly thereafter.

Tulsa coach Frank Haith had said of Brown on the team’s website (the article has since been removed), “I’m really excited with the addition of Rodgerick to our program. He played for the top junior college program in the country last year and was a ‘junkyard dog’ for them all year. Rodgerick can do a little bit of everything, from defending to scoring to rebounding,” Hait said. “But what I love about him is the tenacity in which he plays the game. He plays with great passion and physicality. All Rodgerick cares about is winning and that’s a quality I really admire and look for when we add to our program.”

Hearns added that he had coached in the past and knows the family of former Lobo guard Drue Drinnon, and they had positive things to say about the UNM program.

He will join a recruiting class that has 6-9 forward Bayron Matos, a freshman from the Dominican Republic who enrolled at UNM in January but has not yet played; 7-1 junior college transfer Assane Ndiaye, 6-6 freshman wing Javonte Johnson from Colorado Springs, 6-6 freshman point guard Nolan Dorsey from North Carolina and Saquan Singleton, a 6-6 point guard from the Bronx, New York, who played this past season at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College and signed with the Lobos last month.

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