Lobos sign trio of guards for 2015-16

The early signing period for the New Mexico men’s basketball team began with a bang Wednesday with the Lobos adding three signees for the 2015-16 season. The recruiting class is already being praised by some observers as among the best in the Mountain West Conference.

Head coach Craig Neal and his staff received national letters of intent from a trio of high school prospects Jordan Hunter, from Beaumont, Texas, Dane Kuiper from Tempe, Ariz. and Anthony Mathis from West Linn, Ore.

 “These three signees are all special because they are all high-caliber, national players who are also great young men away from the court,” Neal said. “Jordan, Dane and Anthony are all the type of student-athletes you want to be around as a coach, and that says a lot about them players. It also says a lot about the families they are from. They have a great bond together as future teammates, and I think they will be a terrific class together as Lobos.”

Hunter a 5-foot-11 guard from Beaumont’s Ozen High School, who played his AAU basketball for the Houston Hoops program, was an all-district performer for the Panthers as a sophomore, averaging 14 points per game. In his junior season, Hunter was named the Texas 20-4A District Offensive Player of the Year. Neal said he sees Hunter as someone who can step in when senior Hugh Greenwood completes his eligibility this season.

 “Jordan is a terrific point guard out of the Houston area,” Neal said. “He’s one of the top players in Houston, and he is also one of the top players in Texas. He comes from a great family and his parents who are terrific people. Jordan has chance to be a terrific point guard here. He can shoot it, and he is a really strong athlete. We are very, very fortunate to have someone of his caliber join our program from Texas.”

Kuiper, a 6-foot-7 guard who finished playing his prep ball at Cornoa del Sol in Tempe, Ariz. was ranked the top high school player in the Arizona for the 2015 recruiting class by the Arizona Republic newspaper.

An Alaska-native, Kuiper transferred to Corona del Sol High School before his junior season and helped guide the Aztecs to a third consecutive state title. After playing his AAU ball for Arizona Power Basketball, he was listed as a top 100 national prospect by HoopScoopOnline.com.

 Neal praised Kuiper as “probably the longest verbal commitment in the history of our program.”

“He went from attending our team camp as a kid from Alaska to becoming the top player in the state of Arizona,” Neal said. “He’s a great athlete who can really score at 6-feet-7-inches at the guard and wing positions. He has really improved his game and won a state championship last year. He wants to bring those winning ways to our program.”

Mathis, a 6-foot-2 guardfrom West Linn High School, located in south Portland, was also rated as one of the top 100 prospects in the nation by HoopScoopOnline.com. Mathis and his West Linn Lions will try to win their third consecutive Oregon 6A state title this season. Mathis, a 6A All-State selection as a junior, helped the Lions to a 24-4 record in their state championship season. He played his club basketball with Oregon’s Team Fast.

 “Anthony is someone we have been recruiting for a while,” Neal said. “He is a prolific scorer and has been a top scorer at various national events this summer. He’s spent his high school career at a great program at West Linn High School in Oregon. He’s a terrific young man on and off the court and is the type of guy you enjoy being around as a coach. I can’t wait for him to join us next year, and I look forward to coaching Anthony throughout his career.”

The Lobos begin the 2014-15 regular season Friday night at 7 p.m. in The Pit versus Idaho State of the Big Sky Conference, followed by a game Sunday night at 7 against Cal-State Fullerton of the Big Sky.

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