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Xavier Adams leaving UNM Lobos basketball team

It wasn’t about the coaching change, Xavier Adams said.

The University of New Mexico junior’s decision to transfer from the men’s basketball team to play for another school is simply about a need to get a fresh start.

“I sort of feel like I need a new beginning,” said Adams, the 6-foot-4 junior guard/forward from Flower Mound, Texas. “I worked really hard here. I appreciate all the coaches and fans, but after the ACL injury, I felt this was best. And I when I come back, whoever gets me is going to hit the lottery. I still have a lot of love for the game.”

As for where the Elementary Education major who was often seen sporting Lobo workout gear along with cowboy boots might go from here, he offered up the following.

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“Basically if I can get back to Texas to be a little closer to my mom, if that’s a possibility, that would be what I hope happens,” Adams told the Journal.

He announced his decision via his Twitter account, thanking past coaches and Lobo fans.

“Thank you to everyone that has supported me during my three years at UNM,” he wrote. “I would like to thank God for allowing me to play this sport. I would like to thank coach (Steve) Alford and coach (Craig) Neal for bringing me to this loving University. All you fans have shown nothing but love to me and I appreciate y’all! Unfortunately it’s time for me to move on to another chapter in my career. I apologize for the past seasons but I believe the title will be back at UNM soon! Thank you again for all the support!”

 

Adams tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a Jan. 4 game at Utah State. He was seen walking without crutches at the introductory press conference for Weir on Tuesday.

The junior played 15 games this past season and 77 in his three years in Albuquerque, including 14 starts. He averaged 3.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in his career and shot 46.7 percent from the field.

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He said he isn’t sure if he’ll be granted a medical hardship waiver for his injury, which could save a season of eligibility. The NCAA rules seem to indicate he played too many games, but he has applied and asked them to rule. Normally, a medical hardship waiver is only granted when an injured player plays in fewer than 30 percent of his team’s games (Adams played in 15 of 31).

If he doesn’t get it, a transfer to a Division I program would require him to sit out a year before playing his final season of eligibility. Or he could transfer to a Division II program and not have to sit out.

He is the fifth Lobo since season’s end to ask for and be granted his release, though the first since the coaching change that saw Craig Neal fired March 31 and Paul Weir hired this week.

Adams joins junior Elijah Brown, junior Sam Logwood, sophomore Anthony Mathis and freshman Jalen Harris on their way out the door. Other than Brown, however, the other three players have left open the possibility of turning around and staying at UNM.

When Adams went down in January, he said he had one request/challenge for his teammates the day he learned his injury would cost him his season and, unbeknownst at the time, his Lobo career: “I have (drawn) six charges on the year. I was like, ‘If somebody can’t break that record (with 16 more games to play in the season), we’ve got problems.”

Nobody did. The hard-nosed, high-energy Adams finished the season as the Lobos’ leader in charges taken. And, as he admitted Thursday afternoon, it was hard to watch the game he loves from the bench down the stretch of the season.

Though he didn’t coach him, Weir, who coached against him and met with him this week, wished Adams well.

“Xavier has been a special person to Lobo Basketball in his time here,” Weir said in a statement released by the school. “I loved his energy and passion for the game.”

Adams also said he felt he did a lot of growing up in his time as a Lobo and would always be appreciative of the opportunities UNM afforded him. And, knowing his country roots, maybe it should come as no surprise one of the places that stood out in his travels.

“What I’ll take from my time here, I’ll say becoming more mature,” Adams said. “I saw the game from different angles. Coming to New Mexico allowed me to travel the United States and in different places. Not many people got to say they played basketball in Laramie, Wyo.”

PORTSMOUTH INVITATIONAL: Two players with Albuquerque ties — Lobo power forward Tim Williams and La Cueva High School and UCLA’s Bryce Alford — are playing this week in the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational Tournament.

The tournament is for college seniors and traditionally has been used as an opportunity to play in front of NBA and other professional scouts.

Williams played his first game Wednesday, coming off the bench for 14 points on a very Williams-like 7-of-9 shooting performance in 19 minutes.

Alford’s first game was late Thursday.

Other Mountain West players participating in the 40-player tournament are Nevada’s Marcus Marshall, Utah State’s Jalen Moore and Colorado State’s Emmanuel Omogbo.

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