Ar­royo, Lo­bos host NNMC in the Pit

Lo­cal walk-on has im­pressed UNM coach head­ing into ex­hi­bi­tion game

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - BY GE­OFF GRAM­MER JOUR­NAL STAFF WRITER

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.”

Jor­dan Ar­royo

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