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Lobos guard Tony Snell to leave school, enter NBA Draft

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Tony Snell has played his final game for the Lobos.

The soft-spoken 6-foot-7 junior guard will hire an agent, enter the NBA draft and forgo his senior season at the University of New Mexico, family friend and former club team coach Marvin Lea confirmed Saturday night.

Newly hired UNM coach Craig Neal, in Atlanta attending the Final Four, said he would leave it to Snell to make the announcement, but did confirm there will be a Monday afternoon news conference at UNM involving Snell.

“Tony loves Noodles,” Lea said, referring to the nickname many use for Neal. “When he was hired, it made Tony really take a hard, long look at this decision, but Neal has been great throughout this. With the feedback he was getting and providing to Tony and other feedback we’ve heard, Tony is confident with his choice to go to the NBA now.”

Though Snell has not yet hired an agent, it is just a matter of time, Lea said. Once he does so, Snell will lose his amateur status and no longer be eligible to play in the NCAA.

Snell’s departure, coupled with the very recent parting of ways with junior guard Demetrius Walker and La Cueva High senior Bryce Alford’s decision to follow his father, former UNM head coach Steve Alford, to UCLA, means the Lobos now have three scholarships available for the 2013-14 season. Recruiting for Neal and his still incomplete coaching staff is ongoing, but picks up in earnest on April 11 when coaches can make in-person visits with recruits around the country.

Snell averaged 12.5 points per game this past season and hit a team-high 64 3-pointers. He was the Mountain West Tournament MVP.

Lea said Snell is confident he’ll be a late first-round or early second-round draft pick. Players not drafted in the first round of the NBA draft do not receive a guaranteed contract.

LOBOS LINKS: Roster | Schedule/Results | Geoff Grammer’s blog

— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal