Four days into her first week of college basketball workouts, Mackenzie Curtis appeared to be in midseason form.
Moving fluidly through fast-paced drills and pouring in shots from pretty much everywhere earlier this week, Curtis looked nothing like a typical incoming freshman shaking off several weeks of rust.
She offered an explanation.
“My high school season just ended last Saturday,” Curtis said with a shrug. “Everything was late because of COVID, but we had a good season and I played a lot. I’m ready to go.”
Curtis arrives at UNM after a record-breaking career at El Capitan High School in Lakeside, California. The 5-foot-10 guard racked up 2,658 career points, becoming the highest scorer, boy or girl, in both El Capitan and Grossmont Athletic Conference history.
She averaged 22.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per game as a senior and finished her career with 205 3-pointers.
“I kind of preferred not to know about those things at the time,” Curtis said. “It was good to break the scoring record, but I just like to focus on the game and trying to win.”
Curtis was a four-year starter in high school, and she’ll have an opportunity to contribute early at UNM. The Lobos have five seniors and eight underclassmen on this coming season’s roster, including six freshmen.
Bradbury smiled when asked what Curtis can bring to the table.
“She can flat shoot it,” he said. “She’s got a scorer’s mentality, which can be helpful for us immediately, and you can tell she’s been well-coached. She already knows how to work.”
Some of Curtis’ most recent coaches were on hand to watch Thursday’s workout at UNM’s Davalos Center. At El Capitan she played three seasons for her father, Darin Curtis, and last season for older brother, Dylan Curtis. Older half-siblings Jessica and Andrew Cable, who also grew up playing basketball, also took in Thursday’s workout.
“Yeah, basketball’s a family affair for us,” Mackenzie said. “We pretty much live and breathe it.”
Curtis drew considerable recruiting interest for her scoring ability and she said attending one pre-pandemic game at the Pit helped determine her college plans. She committed in March 2020 and has gotten comfortable answering the question, “Why New Mexico?”
“Why not New Mexico?” Curtis said. “They’ve got the Pit, great fans, an elite coaching staff and great teammates. It feel like a perfect situation for me.”
COMEBACK HOPES: Nike McClure finished one college basketball career in New Mexico and hopes to start another one in the state. McClure, who became a fan favorite while playing for the Lobos as a graduate transfer in 2018-19, said she has applied for UNM’s open video coordinator position.
The 6-foot-3 McClure spent two seasons playing professionally in Cypress and Portugal after leaving UNM, where she helped the Lobos post a 24-7 record in her lone season. McClure was at the Davalos Center on Thursday, working with UNM’s current posts during a workout session. She said getting into coaching has been a long-term goal.
“I talked with (Bradbury) about it when I was playing here,” McClure said. “I had a good season playing in Portugal and was Center of the Year in our league, so I wanted to go out on that note. The opening here is a good opportunity.”
UNM’s staff has been a person short since assistant coach Bill Ferrara departed for St. John’s in April. Bradbury said at the time he hoped to promote director of operations Kabrina Merriweather and move video coordinator Ryan Freeman into her position, but those moves have not been made official.
MAKING PROGRESS: Seniors Antonia Anderson and Jaedyn De La Cerda, who are recovering from postseason surgery, participated in this week’s workouts on a limited basis.
Anderson, who had knee surgery, took part in shooting drills and did not require any sort of brace. She has not been cleared to run but is confident her rehab is on pace.
De La Cerda wears a brace to support her injured right thumb but took part in all of Thursday’s drills, shooting with her left hand even from the 3-point line with moderate success.
“I’ve worked on my left hand a lot,” De La Cerda said with a grin. “It’s possible I’ll shoot lefty once or twice next season – no promises.”
De La Cerda said she hopes to be released for right-hand shooting by late July.