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Six T-Birds Continuing Basketball Careers

Six T-Birds Continuing Basketball Careers photo 5/21/2017 11:11:55 a.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

[Story by Jason Farmer, Hobbs News-Sun]

New Mexico Junior College’s basketball season may be over, but for six Thunderbirds, the chance to keep playing is still alive. Four players have already sign letters of intent to play with a four-year school and two more are expected to do so shortly.

Head coach Brian Lohrey spoke highly of his recent graduates.

“Even after some of the disappointment this year, I think they have done a good job and I really appreciate what they have done,” Lohrey said. “I wasn’t disappointed in them, it was just everything that happened.”

The four T-Birds who have already signed to new schools are Roosevelt Smart, Shawn Olden, Nnamdi Okoro, and Makol Mawien. Xabier Gomez and Josiah Riley have yet to pick a school, but Lohrey expects both players to be on the college hardwood somewhere next season.

“Do I think that they are going to help those teams that they went to? Absolutely,” Lohrey said. “I think a lot of them went to the right place and I think they selected the school for the right reasons. I really hope they have success. I just want to be able to watch them on Saturdays.” Three T-Birds are going to NCAA Division I schools. Mawien signed with Kansas State, Olden will attend TCU and Smart will attend the University of North Texas. Okoro signed to play at NCAA Division II New Mexico Highlands in Las Vegas, N.M.

“I think it is just awesome that at New Mexico Junior College we can continue to send six guy on to play at the next level,” Lohrey said. “Six guys going on to play at Division I or Division II, it is really neat to have two guys go to the Big 12, one guy go to Conference USA, and one guy go to a school that is here in New Mexico.”

With Mawien attending Kansas State and Olden heading to TCU, Lohrey will have an opportunity to watch his former players in person when their new respective schools visit Big 12 rival Texas Tech.

“I hope so,” Lohrey said of making trips to Lubbock to watch his former players. “It is cool that they are in the Big 12 and that we have one close so that if we do have an opportunity to go up there, it is great to go watch them.”

Olden was NMJC’s second-leading scorer at 16.6 points per game and led the team in 3-point percentage at 36.6 percent. He was fourth in rebounding at 4.2 per contest.

Smart led the Thunderbirds in scoring at 18.8 points per game. His season-high was 30 points in a home loss to Odessa College.

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