Mathis Leaves: Lobo star guard will use his fifth season at a school other than New Mexico

Photo: Anthony Mathis, center, says he will leave New Mexico and be a graduate transfer for a yet-to-be-determined school next season. Pictured here are Maluach Makuach (10) and Carlton Bragg (35).

By Mark Smith
Enchantment Sports
Editor in Chief

Anthony Mathis says he has played his final game for the New Mexico Lobo basketball team after all.

Despite getting a rare and surprising fifth year of eligibility from the NCAA following the 2018-19 season, Mathis told Enchantment Sports that he will use that season at a school other than UNM.

“I really have no idea where I will play this season,” Mathis said. “I’m open to a lot of  places, and I’m just talking to a lot of schools right now. I’ll keep talking to them and see what happens.

“I can’t tell you how much I have loved being a part of New Mexico. To be able to play here and to have had all the great experiences I’ve had, it’s hard to explain. It’s been amazing and I’m happy and honored to have been a part of this program.

“I just feel I need to move on and start something fresh.”

Mathis, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard and point guard, entered the NCAA transfer portal on Monday, allowing schools from around the country to contact him about transferring. He said the calls have been coming quickly — and from all over the country.

“It’s been crazy, and a lot of fun,” he told Enchantment Sports. “There have been a lot of schools; Michigan, Northwestern, Kansas, Oklahoma, Gonzaga, Boston College, Texas A&M. I’m talking to all of them.

“I really don’t know where I want to go yet. I just felt it was a good time to go somewhere else.”

Mathis led the Lobos in scoring last season, averaging 14.4 points a game. He is one of the program’s all-time leading 3-point shooters.

But he played sparingly as a sophomore, which turned out to be Craig Neal’s final season as head coach at UNM — and the one that didn’t count against Mathis’ eligibility. Neal was fired after the season, a season filled with turmoil within the program.

In April, the NCAA announced it granted Mathis an extra season based on his experiences that sophomore year. But the NCAA did not specify the reasons.

On Monday, Mathis still did not go into specifics about what happened that year for the NCAA to base its decision.

“It was the environment,” he told Enchantment Sports. “There were just a whole bunch of things that happened.”

Even with Mathis’ departure, the Lobos still have 15 players on scholarship for the upcoming season — but only can provide 13 scholarships.High Noon

In mid-May, third-year Lobo coach Paul Weir told Enchantment Sports that he wasn’t worried about the numbers, because “These days, kids transfer all the time. We still have a lot of kids who have a lot academic work to do. There are just a lot of things out there. You look around the country, and there are teams that are well over scholarships and teams that are well under scholarships. It’s part of the fluid nature of college basketball now; kids are just constantly moving around. For us, it is not really something I’m overly concerned about. It will just sort of work itself out.”


Mark Smith column sigMark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.

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