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Basketball Notebook: Weir to coach Canadian team; Lobos hire strength coach

Former University of New Mexico men’s basketball coach Paul Weir has been named the head coach for Team Canada’s U19 National team. (Journal File Photo)

Paul Weir will coach his next game much sooner than most anticipated.

The former UNM Lobos head coach, and Canadian citizen, was officially named on Monday the head coach for Team Canada’s U19 National team at the June 3-11 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup in Latvia.

Weir was an assistant on the 2017 team that shocked the international community by winning gold in the FIBA U19 championship in Egypt. That team was led by R.J. Barrett, who went on to play for the Duke Blue Devils and is now with the NBA’s New York Knicks.

“Having been a part of this experience before, I am incredibly grateful to be able to take this journey again with an amazing group of players and staff,” Weir said in a prepared statement released by Canada Basketball. “We are honoured (sic) to represent our country in the beautiful game of basketball and look forward to a successful campaign.”

Now a regular on 101.7 KQTM-FM’s afternoon TEAM Talk radio show based in Rio Rancho, Weir and one of the revolving hosts of the station’s TEAM Talk afternoon show discussed the news on Monday then said the station would have a Zoom call to discuss it sometime Tuesday.

The Journal exchanged text messages with Weir, but he did not want to discuss the matter until Tuesday’s Zoom call. The Journal has been asking Weir, who has yet to formally talk to media, about his firing from UNM which was announced with two weeks left in the 2021 season in which the team finished 6-16.

The 41-year-old Weir has a career head coaching record of 86-69 and was 58-63 at UNM.

He has been working at the radio station since March when he started helping provide NCAA Tournament commentary before extending his participation in the show into a regular occurrence. He has said he wanted to compile a sample of on-air work should television or radio opportunities present themselves during the coming college basketball season as many regional or conference-affiliated networks regularly utilize recent or former head coaches as game analysts throughout the season.

In the past year, former Lobo assistants Wyking Jones and Chris Walker, who both went on to be head coaches at Cal and Texas Tech, respectively, were utilized as analysts for Mountain West Conference games by FS1 (Jones) and CBS Sports Network (Walker).

Weir, who has also taught a class in the past in UNM’s Anderson School of Business and may continue to do that, has not said for sure if broadcasting is something he plans to do regularly in the future, but with a buyout from UNM that pays him $490,000 over the next two years and his decision to stay with his wife and two sons in Albuquerque for now, there doesn’t seem to be a rush on making a long term career decision.

ADDING STRENGTH: The Lobos have hired a new strength coach, Matthew Flores, who started June 1. He was most recently at Utah Valley University in the WAC and also served as a graduate assistant strength coach with Minnesota basketball for the 2018-19 season when the Richard Pitino-coached Gophers made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Last month, one-year Lobos strength coach Nick Michael left and took the same position at Loyola-Chicago.

SENIORS AGAIN: A trio of New Mexico State Aggies announced on Monday they would take up the NCAA’s blanket offer for an extra season of eligibility and return to play for head coach Chris Jans.

They seniors include guard Clayton Henry and forwards Donnie Tillman, who once was the Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year at Utah when new Lobo assistant Andy Hill was an assistant there, and Oñate High graduate Johnny McCants.

If it seems like McCants has been around awhile, you aren’t wrong.

How long? He was recruited to NMSU by Weir and this will be his sixth season at NMSU after a redshirt season in 2016-17, four playing seasons in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, and now the NCAA-permitted extra season.

Not a bad run for the 6-foot-7 forward who has already played 116 college games.

Seniors returning this season only do not count against a school’s NCAA scholarship limit of 13 for men’s basketball.

AS FOR THE LOBOS: While NMSU started summer practices last week, UNM newcomers and returnees started coming back this past weekend for summer classes.

Who all came back for a team that remains two scholarships over the NCAA-allowed limit of 13 and who might not be here until July’s second summer session?

The Journal has asked, but UNM is not saying.

Richard Pitino will talk to media on Wednesday and the school says a practice might be open to media sometime next week.

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