He made it through his Senior Night ceremony in March just fine.
But during Wednesday night’s more final goodbye to fans, coaches and teammates at the Lobo men’s basketball awards banquet, senior guard Hugh Greenwood didn’t stand a chance.
Breaking down in tears several times before eventually cutting his remarks short by saying one last thank you, the four-year Lobo starter accepted, along with fellow senior Deshawn Delaney, the team’s Bob King co-MVP award for the 2014-15 season.
“On my (recruiting) visit, coach (Craig) Neal said I needed to trust somebody,” the emotional Greenwood recalled. “I trusted him and it’s been the best four years of my life.”
Delaney’s parting remarks were just as emotional and equally praised Neal for the role he’s played in the life of the Chicago native who has already become the first in his family to graduate from high school and on May 8 is scheduled to become the first member of his family to earn a college degree.
“He’s like a father to me,” Delaney said of Neal. “He helped me accomplish my dreams. I tried to do everything I could to make him happy.”
Neal then turned the emotion onto his returning players for the 2015-16 season. He first echoed the sentiment he has uttered since that Senior Night ceremony in the Pit that Delaney and Greenwood would not be defined by the season the Lobos just completed, in which the team struggled through injury and finished with a 15-16 record and a first-round exit from the Mountain West Tournament. Then he told next year’s returning players the pressure is on them to truly show the thumbprint Greenwood and Delaney left on the program.
The awards banquet was far less pep rally than in years past, ending on a somber note with the goodbyes to Delaney and Greenwood, who was also honored as the team’s top defensive player.
Devon Williams was named the team’s Most Improved and Comeback Player of the Year, while walk-on Tim Jacobs earned accolades as the team’s Sixth Man of the Year. Cullen Neal earned the team’s Academic Achievement award.
ALL IN THE DETAILS: While former UNM associate head coach Lamont Smith, who earlier this month accepted the head coaching job at the University of San Diego, was not at Wednesday’s banquet, his wife, Kim, and daughters Olivia and Payton were in attendance.
While Neal took the time to thank them for their two years at UNM and point out he’s losing his two loudest cheerleaders in the young Smith girls, he also said that he would gladly schedule Smith’s Toreros to play in the Pit in the future under one condition: Olivia and Payton wear cherry and silver to the game.
ON JJ: Neal announced backup post player J.J. N’Ganga suffered a “slight tear” of his right Achilles tendon sometime late in the season and has been in a walking boot since the end of the season.
SPECIAL AGENTS: Greenwood (Michael Oakes) and Delaney (Ian Rubel) have each signed with agents and hope to play professionally next fall. Delaney, who broke his hand the final week of the season, said he has recently resumed shooting, and Greenwood has moved to Las Vegas, Nev., where he has been training at the Impact basketball academy preparing for his pro career.
Greenwood also hopes to play this summer in the World University Games for Australia and still has aspirations of making it onto the Boomers 2016 Olympic team.