With one scholarship open for the 2013-14 season, the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team Tuesday got a commitment from junior college guard Deshawn Delaney from Chicago by way of Vincennes (Indiana) University.
“Being here, I can tell this is just a great fit for me,” Delaney told the Journal in a telephone interview.
EDITOR’S NOTE: View a highlight video of Delaney’s season at Vincennes at bottom of page.
Delaney averaged 15.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season, while shooting 51.4 percent. He helped lead the Trailblazers to the NJCAA Final Four, where they lost in the semifinals to Northwest Florida State, the school where fellow UNM junior college signee Arthur Edwards played.
The scouting service jucorecruiting.com ranks Delaney as the No. 12 junior college player in the nation, the highest rated uncommitted player in the country as of Tuesday.
Delaney, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, is expected to fill the starting role of departed wing Tony Snell, who left after his junior season to enter the June 27 NBA draft.
The players are not one and the same.
While Snell was a long-armed, silky smooth swingman who could get hot from the outside, Delaney is 2 inches shorter and prides himself in having much more of a midrange game. And while Snell developed over three years from a weak defender into one who can claim defense as one of his possible NBA-ready talents, Delaney comes ready to play on that end of the court.
“Defense was our thing at the school I’m coming from,” Delaney said. “I’m coming from a winning program, as well. I think we can do some things here (at UNM) that are big.”
Delaney has a young son back home, who he says is a big motivation. He wants to pursue a professional career after his college days are over, and “this is going to be the way” to give him the best chance to do that, he said.
News of Delaney’s commitment first broke Tuesday afternoon via the fan message board TheLoboLair.com.
UNM coaches cannot comment on any recruit until he has signed with the school and his paperwork has been approved by the school’s compliance office. As of Tuesday, that had not happened.
Delaney was the final Lobo target for the 2013 class. Had UNM not landed Delaney, it likely would have sat on the final scholarship until December to see whether a midseason transfer from another school became available to add to the 2014-15 recruiting class.
Delaney joins Edwards (a 6-7 forward) and Eldorado High School senior Cullen Neal (a 6-4 combo guard), —coach Craig Neal’s son — as the three players UNM locked up in the past month.
They join early signees Tim Myles, a 6-7 high school power forward from Etiwanda, Calif., and Obij Aget, a 7-foot center from the Sudan via La Lumiere School, a prep school in La Porte, Ind. Aget was originally part of the 2012-13 signing class but tore his ACL before enrolling at UNM. He decided to wait a year to rehab the knee before enrolling in classes, which would have started the clock on his five years of college eligibility.
Even as late as February, the Lobos weren’t expecting any scholarships to be open in the spring signing period. But then junior guard Demetrius Walker was indefinitely suspended and later dismissed from the team after the March 2 regular season win over Wyoming. After the season ended, Snell announced he was leaving the program. And former coach Steve Alford left for UCLA, taking his son and Lobo signee Bryce Alford, a senior at La Cueva High, with him. Kory Alford, a walk on who used Aget’s un-used scholarship this past season and was to go back to walk-on status next season, will be transferring to UCLA with his father and younger brother.
Delaney said he expects to move to Albuquerque in July, and he will accompany the team for its summer exhibition trip to Australia.