Marvin Menzies

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Four-star PG Jaylen Fisher de-commits from UNLV

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Coaching changes can wreak havoc on a program’s recruiting class, and that’s been the case for UNLV thanks to the tumultuous nature of their search for a new head coach. Thursday evening one prospect who remained committed to the Mountain West program throughout the process that ultimately led to Marvin Menzies landing the job announced that he’s decided to reopen his recruitment.

Four-star point guard Jaylen Fisher, ranked 55th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, announced via social media that he’s decided to de-commit from UNLV.

“I was very much looking forward to the opportunity to be a Rebel this year,” Fisher wrote. “But there have been a lot of changes with the program since I committed to UNLV; changes that have made me reconsider whether UNLV is still a good fit for me. So with that in mind and after much consideration with my family, I have decided it’s best that I reopen my recruitment.”

Fisher’s decision leaves wing Justin Jackson as the lone member of UNLV’s 2016 class at this point, with Jackson telling Scout.com in early April that he was undecided as to whether or not he’d reopen his recruitment. The school’s search for a coach began in January when they parted ways with Dave Rice, promoting Todd Simon in an interim role.

After deciding not to retain Simon, who’s now the head coach at Southern Utah, UNLV hired former Little Rock head coach Chris Beard…who left for Texas Tech less than two weeks later. UNLV landed Menzies, who they passed over for Beard, and he’s got a lot of work to do to field a roster that will be competitive in the Mountain West next season.

As for Fisher, the Arlington, Tennessee native should be a popular prospect with his decision to reopen things. And with Memphis losing former commit Charlie Moore, the Tigers are in need of help at the point. The question now is whether or not new head coach Tubby Smith will look to reach out to Fisher.

h/t Memphis Commercial-Appeal

Western Athletic Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

New Mexico State's Pascal Siakam, left, is fouled by Northern New Mexico's Daniel Delgado during their NCAA college basketball game in Rio Rancho, N.M., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/The Albuquerque Journal via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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The regular season in the WAC played out the way many expected it to. Even with Grand Canyon and CSU Bakersfield well positioned to challenge reigning champion New Mexico State, in the end Marvin Menzies’ Aggies were simply too much for the competition. With the conference’s best player in Pascal Siakam leading the way, New Mexico State will arrive at the Orleans Arena the prohibitive favorite to cut down the nets for a fifth consecutive season. And with Grand Canyon still in their Division I transitional period there’s one less challenger capable of stopping the Aggies from doing so.

The Bracket

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When: March 10-12

Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas

Final: March 12, 11:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

Favorite: New Mexico State

The Aggies went 13-1 in WAC play, with the lone defeat being a four-point loss at Grand Canyon back on January 9. Siakam led the way, averaging 18.8 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game while shooting 54.6 percent from the field in conference games (all tops in the WAC). Guard Ian Baker is one of the conference’s best perimeter shooters, and the Aggies have a host of other contributors capable of stepping forward on any given night. Them not winning the tournament would be a significant surprise.

And if they lose?: CSU Bakersfield

If there’s one team in the field that has a shot at matching up with Siakam and the rest of the NMSU front court, it’s Rod Barnes’ Roadrunners. Veterans Aly Ahmed and Kevin Mays have been good all season long for the two-seed, which has four players averaging at least 11 points per game (guards Dedrick Basile and Damiyine Durham being the other two players). With a defense that is one of best in the WAC, Bakersfield is the team with the best shot at dethroning New Mexico State.

Other Contenders:

  • Seattle: The three-seed has had its share of issues on the offensive end of the floor, but the Redhawks limited WAC opponents to 40.4 percent shooting from the field. That being said, there’s a clear drop-off from CSU Bakersfield on down with the Roadrunners having defeated Seattle by convincing margins in both meetings.

WAC Player of the Year: Pascal Siakam, New Mexico State

In conference games Siakam led the WAC in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocked shots. Regardless of what opponents attempted to do to slow him down, the sophomore was still productive and that benefitted his teammates as well.

WAC Coach of the Year: Marvin Menzies, New Mexico State

A case can be made for Grand Canyon’s Dan Majerle, whose team finished the regular season with a 25-6 record. But when your team is as dominant as New Mexico State was, with their lone WAC defeat coming by four points, you get the trophy. Menzies won his first Don Haskins Coach of the Year award last March, and given the work he’s done with this year’s team he should win it for a second consecutive season.

First-Team All-WAC:

  • Pascal Siakam, New Mexico State (POY)
  • Aly Ahmed, CSU Bakersfield: Ahmed averaged 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in conference play,
  • Kevin Mays, CSU Bakersfield: Mays was one of the best defenders in the WAC, and his 8.3 rebounds per contest in WAC games ranked third in the conference. GCU’s Grandy Glaze also has a good argument here.
  • Ian Baker, New Mexico State: Baker averaged 12.3 points per game and shot 37.7 percent from three in conference games, but his value is about more than the raw numbers.
  • Joshua Braun, Grand Canyon: Averaging 18.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per contest in WAC play, Braun ranked in the top ten in the WAC in scoring (t-1st), rebounding (tenth) and field goal percentage (tenth).

PREDICTION: New Mexico State takes care of business, earning another trip to the NCAA tournament.

Redshirt likely for New Mexico State guard Landry

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After serving as a reserve in each of his first two seasons at New Mexico State, guard Travon Landry underwent microfracture surgery on his knee in the offseason. Landry has yet to return to the floor for Marvin Menzies’ team, most recently missing their Crimson and White scrimmage Saturday night.

And following the game, Menzies said that it was likely that Landry would redshirt this season, thus preserving a year of eligibility according to Mark Rudi of the Las Cruces Sun-News.

“We’re going to have to play it by ear and we’re going to have to make a decision relatively soon,” Menzies said about Landry. “But, right now it’s not looking like he’s going to be able to play this year. That’s kind of where it’s at.”

Landry averaged just 2.1 points per game as a sophomore, with the majority of the minutes on the perimeter going to players such as Daniel Mullings, Ian Baker and DK Eldridge. With Mullings and Eldridge out of eligibility minutes opened up, with Landry being one possible competitor for more playing time. But with his still recovering from offseason surgery, it’s tough for the San Antonio native to make any kind of statement for the upcoming campaign.

Baker is expected to be one of the top guards in the WAC, but he’s going to need help if the Aggies are to make a fifth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. Among those who will compete for minutes are sophomores Braxton Huggins (8.0 mpg), Jalyn Pennie (9.1 mpg) and Matt Taylor (8.5 mpg), redshirt freshman Sidy Ndir and freshman Jermaine Haley.

New Mexico State, Marvin Menzies agree to contract extension through 2019

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In seven seasons as the head coach at New Mexico State, Marvin Menzies has won sixty-three percent of his games and led the Aggies to four NCAA tournament appearances. And of those four trips to the NCAA tournament the last three have come in the last three seasons, with New Mexico State falling to San Diego State in overtime in this season’s event.

Wednesday the school announced that it has rewarded Menzies with a two-year contract extension through the 2018-19 season. New Mexico State AD Dr. McKinley Boston said the following about his head coach in the school release announcing the agreement:

“I am pleased to offer Coach Menzies a two-year contract extension based upon the consistent competiveness of his team, consistent academic success of his players and his strong fundraising efforts to help support the teams financials needed to compete at a high Division level,” said Dr. Boston.

New Mexico State will have to account for the departure of 7-foot-5 center Sim Bhullar, who made the decision to enter the 2014 NBA Draft last month. What will help the Aggies are the returns of both guard Daniel Mullings and center Tshilidi Nephawe, who will both be seniors next season.

Mullings, who averaged 16.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as in 2013-14, was named WAC Player of the Year and Nephawe (11.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg) earned second-team All-WAC honors. New Mexico State will also welcome back guard DK Eldridge, who was a WAC All-Newcomer Team selection.

New Mexico State’s KC Ross-Miller, Renaldo Dixon suspended for roles in Thursday’s skirmish at Utah Valley

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By now the footage of the post-game brawl that marred a competitive game between New Mexico State and Utah Valley has made the rounds, with the incident masking the fact that the Wolverines took a step towards the WAC regular season title with a 66-61 overtime victory.

What got things going in the wrong direction was New Mexico State guard KC Ross-Miller throwing the basketball at Utah Valley’s Holton Hunsaker just after the final horn, leaving members of both teams scrambling to either defend their teammates or diffuse a potentially explosive situation. Add in the students rushing the floor to celebrate with the team and sure enough punches were thrown by Aggie players and even a couple Utah Valley fans.

Friday afternoon the WAC announced that Ross-Miller would be suspended two games and teammate Renaldo Dixon one due to their roles in the melee. Both players will miss Saturday’s game against Bakersfield, with Ross-Miller also suspended for the Aggies’ game against Grand Canyon on March 6.

“There obviously is no place in the Western Athletic Conference or intercollegiate athletics as a whole for the unfortunate events that took place at the conclusion of Thursday night’s game,” WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd said in a statement announcing the suspensions.  “And I appreciate the excellent cooperation that I have received from both institutions in my review of what occurred.”

“While the suspensions handed down are appropriate for the actions of the involved student-athletes, there will be a continued review of other incidents that occurred as a result of fans rushing the court. There are obvious safety and security issues that need to be addressed, and I also have requested additional games management information from Utah Valley University.

“Finally, the situation could have been much worse if it had not been for outstanding effort of both the New Mexico State and Utah Valley coaching staffs. They were instrumental in separating their student-athletes from what could have been an even uglier situation.”

As for the fans, once again whether or not they should be allowed to rush the court is a topic of discussion. But instead of debating which programs should do it, the debate centers on fan/player safety and whether or not schools do enough to ensure no interactions between fans and visiting players. And in some circles, there’s a desire to see the NCAA ban court storming once and for all.