Of all the newcomers on the Lobo men’s basketball roster this season, none drew more attention Friday from local media than the only one of the nine new players who wasn’t actually practicing.
Jordan Goodman, the 6-foot-9 forward who was a first-team junior college All-American last year playing at Harcum College in Pennsylvania, had surgery to remove a calcium deposit from his left knee in early June and has not yet been cleared for full contact drills with the Lobos. He was running and shooting Friday in the Rudy Davalos Center.
None of the Lobos were made available for interviews Friday. Asked whether the versatile Goodman is similar to former Lobo Darington Hobson, a lengthy guard who was the Mountain West Player of the Year in 2010, second-year head coach Craig Neal was quick to stop such comparisons.
“No. He’s something we’ve never had,” Neal said. “He’s 6-9, 225. He’s put on probably 10 pounds (since arriving in Albuquerque). … He’s a 6-9 kid who can play out on the floor. He can post. He can run the floor.”
Neal said he expects Goodman to be ready by Nov. 14 when the season opens.
BIG ADDITION: Junior college transfer J.J. N’Ganga, a 6-10, 250-pound junior from France by way of Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa, will team up with projected starter Obij Aget (7-1, 220) to play center this season.
“Big,” Neal said when asked to describe N’Ganga. “He’s really more skilled basketball-wise than I thought he was going to be. He’s a very good kid, does everything we ask him to do. Hopefully he’ll be able to provide us some things that we weren’t expecting from him.”
FRESHMAN DEFENDERS: True wings Sam Logwood (6-7) and Xavier Adams (6-5) are early candidates to get big minutes off the bench this season thanks to their defense, if nothing else.
“He’s probably the best defender as a freshman we’ve ever had,” Neal said of Logwood.
Of Adams, the coach added: “I think ‘X’ will be the same way. I’m really high on ‘X.’ They’re very similar.”
DOUBLE TAKE: It would be unfair to compare any newcomer to Cameron Bairstow after the dream senior season strung together by the departed Aussie power forward now playing with the Chicago Bulls. But it’s hard not to see the obvious similarities in appearance between him and 6-9, 210 true freshman forward Joe Furstinger from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
Furstinger, who knocked down several deep jump shots in Friday’s practice, appears more skilled on offense, especially facing the basket, than Bairstow was as a freshman.
WALK-ON MINUTES: Oñate High School graduate Tim Jacobs (6-0), who is walking on to the Lobos roster this season after playing at Cochise (Ariz.) College last year, could be a vital piece of the team. UNM doesn’t have any other primary ballhandlers after starters Cullen Neal or Hugh Greenwood. Should either get hurt or in foul trouble, don’t be surprised to see this walk-on get minutes.
ONLY ONE RED: Coach Neal will redshirt Sandia High graduate Adam Cumber, a walk-on freshman guard.
“No other player on our roster will redshirt, unless he gets hurt in an exhibition or early in the season,” Neal said.
PRACTICE SQUAD POWER: While not technically redshirts, sophomore guard Elijah Brown and junior forward Tim Williams will be joining Cumber as Lobos not playing this year. Brown (Butler) and Williams (Samford) have to sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules.
Brown, the son of former NBA head coach Mike Brown, is a 6-4 guard who was the fourth leading scorer for Butler last season as a true freshman and has three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Williams, a thick 6-8, 220-pound forward, was the freshman of the year in the Southern Conference two years ago and first-team All-SoCon last season, leading Samford in points, rebounds, blocks and steals. He will have two years to play at UNM.