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Weir reassured — there is life after the Lobos

Paul Weir and UNM have agreed to part ways at the end of the season. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

It isn’t as though he’s been hiding.

In fact, for much of the past few months since he was fired as the head coach of the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team, Paul Weir has done anything but keep a low profile.

Weir and his family – wife and two sons – remain in Albuquerque. He’s been teaching a class at UNM’s Anderson School of Management and will continue to do so.

The 41-year-old has become a regular on an afternoon sports talk radio show on 101.7-FM KQTM in Rio Rancho trying to “dip my toe in this (broadcasting) world” should that be a possible future career path. And on Monday, Weir was named the head coach of his home country’s Canadian Junior National team for next month’s FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup in Latvia.

“I thought it was gonna be reading books, reflecting, doing yoga cross legged,” Weir said Tuesday in a video call with a handful of local reporters in his first interview since he and UNM announced their parting of ways in February with two weeks left in the regular season. He coached the final two weeks, but did not do interviews.

“I had this vision of what it was going to look like (after coaching). It hasn’t been that way at all.”

He doesn’t know yet what he’ll be doing in the fall, but right now, Weir is happy. And he’s motivated for the Team Canada opportunity, which seemingly serves as a bookend to his Lobos career. He was an assistant on the team in 2017 after being hired at UNM but before coaching a game. He now will coach after being fired but before the Lobos play another game.

He said he’s been pleasantly surprised with the number of people who have reached out to him with various career opportunity possibilities or just advice – in and out of basketball.

One such ongoing conversation Weir says he has especially valued is that of the unique bond he now has with fellow former Lobos basketball coach Fran Fraschilla, who, after coaching at UNM, has become one of the top college and international basketball analysts for ESPN.

Fraschilla told the Journal on Tuesday he is excited to see what’s next for Weir – with Team Canada and beyond.

Fran Fraschilla, shown while coaching the Lobos in the MWC tournament in 2002, says he doesn’t know Paul Weir well, but has communicated with Weir now that both are former University of New Mexico coaches. (Journal file)

“He’s a young guy who is still a terrific coach,” Fraschilla said. “He has a lot of basketball left in him. This (Team Canada assignment) is great news. …

“Paul and I don’t know each other that well, but we have that common bond. At this stage of my career, I like to reach out to let these guys know that they can have a life after getting fired.”

ON THE AIR: What started as some NCAA Tournament commentary in March has become a regular on-air gig for Weir with ESPN Radio in Rio Rancho.

But you haven’t, so far, heard the former coach who is still collecting a $490,000 buyout from UNM over the next two years talk much Lobo hoops.

Weir says there is no such requirement that he shy away from it, just his own preference. But he realizes if he continues to do local sports radio, there’s no avoiding talking about Lobo basketball.

“I felt when I when I brought myself back in,” Weir said, “I was very up-front in my support for the team, my belief in the new coach, my belief in how well the program is going to do. I didn’t do this – I’m not doing this for the Lobos. I’m doing this for my own understanding and experience. And, inevitably, that’s probably going to crossover with the Lobos, but I would hope by now that people who know me well enough know that I’m, hopefully, a very professional person – someone that’s just going to represent myself and ESPN Radio in the right way.”

OH, CANADA: Weir, a Canadian citizen, said he’s honored for the Team Canada assignment, and the team will start assembling next week in Tampa, Fla. That is where the NBA’s Toronto Raptors were based this past season due to COVID-19 restrictions in Canada, and Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is the head coach of Canada’s Senior National team.

With the senior team then being based in Canada, the junior team will also meet there starting next week with Weir and fellow coaches first needing to cut a list of 18 players down to 12 before leaving for Latvia on June 27. Games run from July 3-11.

“If there’s one thing that I took from the last experience … it is just how small you are or I would be in the game of basketball,” Weir said.

“I think when you when you coach a college basketball team, the world kind of revolves around you in a way. But when you go and play international basketball, with so many amazing players in a tournament like this – I mean, you’re going to be looking at the NBA Draft over the next couple of years from all these different countries, all these different teams – it kind of puts into perspective, who you are and what your role is.”




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