New Mexico landed its first 2016 commitment Saturday evening, as three-star small forward Damien Jefferson made his verbal pledge to the Mountain West program. Jefferson, a native of East Chicago, Indiana, took his official visit to New Mexico this weekend and the Lobos were considered by many scouts as the favorite to land him.
News of Jefferson’s commitment was first reported by Scout.com.
Jefferson attends East Chicago Central HS, where as a junior he averaged 23.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per contest. Jefferson was named to the Indiana boys Junior All-Star team at the end of last season, and he played for the SYF Players grassroots program this summer.
Jefferson’s commitment gets UNM back on the board in the class, as forward Mitch Lightfoot de-committed in mid-April. The Lobos have just two scholarship seniors on their roster for the 2015-16 season (guard Tim Jacobs and center J.J. N’Ganga), and among the wing options Jefferson will join on campus in 2016 are sophomores Xavier Adams and Sam Logwood, and freshman Dane Kuiper.
In recent years the Australian Football League has taken a harder look at college basketball for talent, with the height and athleticism of some players being a good fit for the sport. Former Morehead State forward Jason Holmes saw action at the AFL’s highest level earlier this season as a ruckman, and by many accounts he’s played well for the St. Kilda Football Club.
Thursday night it was announced that former New Mexico guard Hugh Greenwood has signed a two-year contract with Adelaide, thus returning to the sport he played as a teenager prior to joining the UNM program. After completing his career at New Mexico, Greenwood spent some time with the Utah Jazz’s summer league team.
Greenwood has experience playing Australian rules football, and he was good enough to earn a scholarship from the Australian Institute for Sport in both basketball and football according to Adelaide’s release. That experience, which college basketball players who have made the switch in recent years, should help with his transition to the game as a professional.
Greenwood is the second former college basketball player to sign with an AFL franchise in the last week. Former Arizona forward Matt Korcheck, who had a month-long trial with Carlton of the AFL’s second division that began in late July, signed a two-yeat contract with the club last week.
Slowly but surely college basketball programs are releasing their full non-conference schedules. And in the case of the 11 members of the Mountain West, they now know their possible path to a regular season conference title.
Wednesday the conference released its full league schedule, with four games on December 30 marking the start of conference play. Each team will play eight opponents both home and away, with single games (one home, one away) against the other two teams to reach a total of 18 conference games.
Of the four conference games to be played December 30, Fresno State’s trip to UNLV could be the most intriguing matchup. While the Runnin’ Rebels add one of the nation’s top recruiting classes to help account for the loss of four starters, most notably Christian Wood and Rashad Vaughn, Fresno State returns its top five scorers from a season ago led by senior guard Marvelle Harris.
Also on the schedule December 30 are Wyoming visiting preseason favorite San Diego State in a rematch of last year’s Mountain West tournament title game, Nevada visiting New Mexico and Utah State visiting San Jose State. The Mountain West will look to increase the number of NCAA tournament bids from last season’s total of three, which could have been even lower had the Cowboys not earned the conference’s automatic bid.
Below are the single-game matchups for each of the teams in the Mountain West. In larger conferences with unbalanced schedules, those single games can have a significant impact on the title race if head-to-head tiebreakers are needed to determine a champion.
Air Force: vs. Boise State, at San Diego State
Boise State: vs. Fresno State, at Air Force
Colorado State: vs. New Mexico, at Fresno State
Fresno State: vs. Colorado State, at Boise State
Nevada: vs. San Diego State, at San Jose State
New Mexico: vs. Wyoming, at Colorado State
San Diego State: vs. Air Force, at Nevada
San Jose State: vs. Nevada, at UNLV
UNLV: vs. San Jose State, at Utah State
Utah State: vs. UNLV, at Wyoming
Wyoming: vs. Utah State, at New Mexico