AP NEWS

Harris becomes 5th player in 8 days to leave Lobos

March 29, 2017 GMT

Jalen Harris was the answer to Tuesday’s edition of “Who Wants to Transfer?”

The freshman point guard for The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team announced on Twitter that he will transfer from the program. That makes five players in the past eight days who elected to leave the program, and Harris is the third player with significant starting experience in that list.

“I would like to thank the University of New Mexico for everything they’ve done for me this year,” Harris wrote. “I would like to thank Coach [Craig] Neal, the coaching staff & and my teammates for helping me grow on and off the court this year.

Earlier on Tuesday, 6-foot-9 walk-on freshman Holt Shelley announced he, too, was leaving the program. Sam Logwood announced his departure from the program on Monday. On March 20, junior wing Elijah Brown and sophomore guard Anthony Mathis opted to leave UNM, which went 17-14 last season but exited the Mountain West Tournament in its first game for the third straight March.

Neal said in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon that he and Harris met for a second time after the season ended, and the guard informed Neal of his decision.

“It’s disappointing that we have a freshman that has decided to leave,” Neal said in the statement. “We had really high hopes for Jalen, but he has a great future ahead of him and is an outstanding kid. We support his decision and wish him the best.”

Harris started 18 games this season, averaging 4.5 points and dishing out 2.3 assists per game. Harris, a 6-2 guard, was recruited out of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C. and signed with UNM in April of 2016. His best game came in the infamous 105-104 loss to Nevada on Jan. 7 that saw the Lobos squander a 14-point lead in the final 1:29 of regulation. Harris had 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists in that game.

UNM has lost seven players from this season’s team, including graduating seniors Tim Williams and Obij Aget — a disturbing turnover that calls into question the stability of the program. UNM athletic director Paul Krebs released a statement two days after UNM’s 65-60 loss to Fresno State on March 9 stating that Neal would return for the 2017-18 season.

UNM is 49-45 over the last three seasons after a 27-7 mark in 2013-14, Neal’s first year as head coach.