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He’ll be back: Lobo Maluach gets OK to leave Australia

Makuach Maluach (10, shown in 2018 vs. Northern New Mexico) has permission to leave Australia, which means he is returning to the University of New Mexico. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

The quiet one will be back.

While travel restrictions out of Australia had raised concerns about whether UNM Lobo wing Makuach Maluach would be able to return to Albuquerque before the fall semester starts, the Journal has learned the 6-foot-7 senior to be has been granted permission from the Australian government to fly back to the United States.

It’s unclear when in the coming weeks he will return to Albuquerque, but UNM has not yet started voluntary summer workouts for the men’s basketball team (Football players begin them in early July.)

Many nations, including the United States, have implemented various travel restrictions into their countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some, such as Australia, where Maluach has been home for the summer, have placed restrictions on their own citizens leaving the country out of concerns they may get infected abroad and want to return home with the virus.

While there wasn’t specifically an exemption for students to leave Australia, Maluach, the Journal learned, nevertheless had his appeal approved this week and will be back to UNM in plenty of time for summer workouts, whenever they begin for the team, and certainly for the fall semester and 2020-21 season.

Other international players on the Lobo basketball team are either already back in the United States after leaving campus in the spring and summer or are not facing the same concerns about their ability to travel back.

Maluach is one of three returning seniors for the Lobo men’s basketball team along with Zane Martin and Keith McGee.

The Lobos, who are sitting at 12 scholarships allotted to six returning players (that doesn’t count the three returning walk-ons) and six newcomers (four transfers and two incoming freshmen).

Forward Bayron Matos was originally slated to be one of those newcomers, but the 6-foot-9 Dominican Republic native finished up prep school last December and decided to enroll at UNM in January, making him a returning scholarship player despite his having not yet played a game for the Lobos.

The last of the NCAA-allowed 13 scholarships could go to Santa Fe High wing J.B. White, who completed his junior season this past March but has recently announced he would like to try to graduate from high school this summer and enroll at UNM early to join the team. If that happens for White, ranked in the top 100 Class of 2021 recruits nationally by three major recruiting services, he would be put on scholarship, bringing UNM to 13.

But before that, the Lobos are still keeping recruiting communications open with players for this coming season — either for that 13th scholarship if White doesn’t end up coming this summer or in case more movement on the 2020-21 roster happens, which isn’t uncommon anymore around the country even deep into the summer.

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