AP NEWS

MacDougall, Simmons released

March 29, 2018 GMT

If the weather Tuesday afternoon was a surprise, the news coming out of The University New Mexico’s men’s basketball program was not.

Head coach Paul Weir announced that senior forward Connor MacDougall and junior swing man Jachai Simmons were leaving the program to seek options elsewhere. Both will transfer by the end of the current school year.

Neither had much of a role with the Lobos last year as MacDougall never appeared in a regular season game and Simmons had his year derailed after the death of his father in January.

“Jachai has had a challenging past few months,” Weir said in a statement. “We both agreed a fresh start would be in his best interests and we will support him every which way we can in that endeavor.”

Simmons started 10 of the 25 games in which he appeared, averaging 3.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in 13.6 minutes. He did not play in nine of the team’s final 12 games after the untimely passing of his father.

He had a career high 15 points in a Dec. 27 win at home over Air Force, the only game in which he reached double figures.

A 6-foot-9 power forward who played one season at UNM before suffering a severe high ankle sprain in the team’s preseason exhibition against Brigham Young on Oct. 27, MacDougall played only one season with the Lobos. He averaged 4.0 points and 1.9 rebounds in 27 games during the 2016-17 campaign.

Pegged as a potential starter this year, MacDougall never did get things moving in the right direction. Just weeks before the season opener, Weir announced MacDougall had been stripped of what had been a redshirt season while at Arizona State and was, in fact, entering his senior season at UNM and not, as expected, his junior campaign.

MacDougall appealed and carried the fight through the convoluted process with ASU and the Pac-12 Conference, eventually losing that appeal and being forced to accept that he had just one year of eligibility left. Once his ankle was fully healed in late January, he had a clear choice: Play out the remaining conference games with UNM and finish his college career with an abbreviated senior season or sit out the remaining games and use 2018-19 as his senior year.

“I love being a Lobo and feel really bad that things happened the way they did,” he said in January. “I did a lot of hard work in the offseason and was ready to come back.”

MacDougall also faced the prospect of a diminished role next season. He would have been one of four low-post players 6-9 or taller on the 2018-19 roster along with incoming transfers Vance Jackson and Carlton Bragg (both 6-9), plus sophomore Vladimir Pinchuk (6-10).

The departure of MacDougall and the 6-7 Simmons leaves the Lobos with one open scholarship. That may already be earmarked for Marvin Cannon, a 6-5 small forward out of Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kan. Cannon tweeted over the weekend that he has received a scholarship offer from UNM.

The Lobos have joined a growing list of other offers Cannon has received this recruiting season along with Washington State, St. Bonaventure, Southern Miss, Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, Eastern Illinois, Portland State, South Alabama and Cleveland State.