When Mustapha Amzil walked into the Pit a couple weeks ago on his recruiting visit to the University of New Mexico, he loved what he saw.
And while Lobo coaches told the 6-foot-9 transfer forward from the University of Dayton about how the building dug 37 feet into the ground erupts in the winter with passionate fans, he had heard the stories already.
The Helsinki native had already been given a pretty good scouting report on that from a coach in his native Finland.
“My high school coach, Hanno Möttölä, he played with the University of Utah, and he played in the Pit. He said it gets really, really loud in there,” Amzil told the Journal Friday.
Unlike his old coach, who Lobo fans remember well as one of the stars who led the Utes to the 1998 national championship game, Amzil will be hearing those Pit fans cheering for him not against him this season.
Amzil on Friday morning announced on his social media accounts that he will transfer to UNM, picking the Lobos over several schools heavily recruiting the versatile forward including Miami, Memphis, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
What’s good 505!!🐺 #committed pic.twitter.com/3mrYvjoOkF
— Mustapha Amzil (@CantStaphMe) April 21, 2023
“I did my research on all the schools recruiting me and I think the group we have now (at UNM) is really dangerous,” Amzil said. “I liked the coaching staff and think they can help get me better and we have a good team that can try to win a championship. That was one of the main reasons I chose New Mexico. I believe we can win.”
Amzil, who has international experience playing for the Finnish junior national team, played 88 games over the past three seasons at Dayton, starting 35 of them. This past season, he averaged 9.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and hit 52.7% of his 2-point shots and 36.6% of his 3-point shots (45-of-123).
With two seasons of playing eligibility remaining, Amzil will be expected to spread the floor on offense with that 3-point shot, pulling defenders out of the lane and creating space near the rim for teammates like attacking guards Jaelen House, Jamal Mashburn, Jr., and Donovan Dent. But don’t pigeonhole him into being just a “stretch-4”, outside shooter. He believes he can handle the ball, put it on the floor and play inside and out.
“I think I haven’t been able to show all my skills yet — haven’t been able to fully play my game,” Amzil said. “I think this is the right spot for me.”
Amzil joins a Lobo recruiting class that still has two open scholarships to fill, but has already landed an impressive offseason haul that includes:
• 6-9 F Nelly Junior Jospeh (transfer, Iona)
• 6-9 Mustapha Amzil (transfer, Dayton)
• 6-5 Jemarl Baker, Jr., (transfer, Fresno State)
• 6-3 Tru Washington (4-star HS recruit)
• 6-8 Jadyn Toppin (4-star HS recruit)
• 6-1 Shane Douma-Sanchez (local walk-on from Del Norte High School)
All three Division I transfers have starting potential to replace departed Lobo starters Morris Udeze (6-8), Josiah Allick (6-8) and Javonte Johnson (6-6).
With Amzil’s commitment, the Lobos’ 2023-24 roster as of Friday looked like this (the NCAA allows for 13 scholarship players for Division I men’s basketball teams):
SCHOLARSHIP PLAYERS (alphabetical)
• F Mustafa Amzil 6-9 (junior)
• G Braden Appelhans, 6-7 (sophomore)
• G Jemarl Baker, Jr., 6-5 (6th year senior)
• PG Donovan Dent, 6-2 (sophomore)
• C Sebastian Forsling, 7-0 (junior)
• PG Jaelen House, 6-0 (5th year senior)
• F/C Nelly Junior Joseph, 6-10 (senior)
• G Jamal Mashburn, Jr., 6-2 (senior)
• F Jadyn Toppin, Fr., 6-8 (freshman)
• G Tru Washington, Fr., 6-3 (freshman)
• G/F Quinton Webb, 6-6 (redshirt freshman)
• G Shane Douma-Sanchez, 6-1 (freshman)
• F Mac Manzanares, 6-5 (sophomore)
Other transfer news…
Last year’s Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year Graham Ike, the 6-foot-9 forward who helped carry the Wyoming Cowboys to the 2022 NCAA Tournament but missed this past season with a leg injury, announced on Friday morning that he is transferring to Gonzaga.
The last time the Bulldogs took a start transfer big man from the Mountain West, it was San Jose State’s Brandon Clarke, who is now playing in the NBA for the Memphis Grizzlies. …
• Former UNM Lobo guard K.J. Jenkins this past week announced he is transferring to UNC Wilmington. …
• Former UNM Lobo forward Josiah Allick took a recruiting visit last week to San Diego State and is on a recruiting visit this week to his home state’s University of Nebraska, where his sister is on the national powerhouse Huskers’ volleyball team. …
• Former Lobo Jay Allen-Tovar, the 6-foot-9 forward who played three games for UNM this past season before leaving the team and transferring to Southern Utah, is back in the NCAA transfer portal without having played a game at his new university. SUU had an offseason coaching change with head coach Todd Simon leaving to become the new head coach at Bowling Green.