Arroyo, Lobos host NNMC in the Pit
Local walk-on has impressed UNM coach heading into exhibition game
Walk-ons don’t generally get much playing time at the Division I level of college basketball. Even fewer see the court in their first season. Almost none can lay claim to how Albuquerque’s Jordan Arroyo, a walk-on for the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team, started his college career on Tuesday.
Just six minutes, 11 seconds into the Lobos’ 2018-19 season, in a road game at Cal-State Northridge, head coach Paul Weir sent into the game the 6-foot-7 freshman forward from Atrisco Heritage Academy. And it was no mistake. “Jordan Arroyo has exceeded any expectation I had or the staff had with regards to his
work ethic, with regards to his energy, his body language, his commitment to this team,” said Weir. “He’s been exceptional.”
Arroyo and fellow walkon Clay Patterson from Rio Rancho High School are expected to get minutes for UNM (1-0) in tonight’s exhibition vs. NAIA Northern New Mexico (3-1) in Dreamstyle Arena — The Pit. The fact that Arroyo is already in the rotation for even the regular season games is a bit of a surprise.
Just one month ago, as practices for the season were getting underway, Arroyo told the Journal he knew people didn’t expect much from walk-ons.
“Walk-ons usually don’t play,” Arroyo said in the first week of October. “And I know that. I knew that deciding to be a walk-on. But I wanted to come here because I wanted to show that I do have potential to play. … I can do the little things people don’t like to do like second-chance points on the boards, getting deflections, diving on the floor.”
On Tuesday, the 2018 Class 6A state champion, who averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Jaguars, played eight minutes for the Lobos. He scored two points, grabbed a pair of rebounds and had a defensive stop on CSUN’s Lamine Diane in a night not many Lobos could say the same. (Diane scored a game-high 34 points in the loss to UNM.)
Arroyo’s production in a short time on the court didn’t surprise Weir.
“We’ve had scrimmages as a team where he’s been one of the most influential players on the floor,” Weir said. “... I’ve explained to our other post players, they may think they know what their playing time may be, but I have absolutely no hesitation to play him more.”
So the freshman walk-on getting on the court isn’t just a motivational ploy to inspire the other forwards?
“That’s why we have something called the Wall of Truth,” Weir said, referring to a wall in the locker room that shows which players have the best statistics in practices and games. “That’s why we start guys
for deflections. I do not play guys based on who recruited them, who’s mom I know, whose coach I like, who brings me cookies. It’s performance-based, and Jordan Arroyo is answering that bell better than a lot of other guys.”
As for Arroyo, he did acknowledge there were practices over the summer when he felt outmanned by the bigger, more athletic teammates at his forward position.
“As time went on,” he said, “I feel like I’ve mentally developed, and I realize that I do belong.”
PATTERSON: While Patterson, UNM’s other walk-on who was the New Mexico Gatorade Player of the Year at Rio Rancho as a high school junior, didn’t get into Tuesday’s game, Weir said fans can also expect to see him on the court this season.
The 6-1 guard, who redshirted at Division II Fort Lewis College last season and has been cleared by the NCAA to play immediately rather than sit out because of the transfer, said he feels he can help the team too.
And when he does, it will be a bit of a dream come true.
“As a little kid I always dreamed I could (be a Lobo),” Patterson told the Journal at the team’s media day last month.
“… I always went to the games, especially the big games. Always got tickets. My favorite Lobo was Hugh Greenwood.”