Albuquerque Journal

Padgett still has big ambitions for Lobo big men

First-year assistant: Goals stay unchanged

- BY GEOFF GRAMMER JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Monday night, the New Mexico Lobos went to a big lineup to start the game at UNLV.

The hope has always been that 6-foot-9 freshman Bayron Matos and 6-10 Valdir Manuel would be strengths for the UNM basketball team this season. That was only amped up with the offseason hire of assistant coach Scott Padgett, the former national champion with the Kentucky Wildcats and 6-foot-9 firstround NBA draft pick of the Utah Jazz in 1999.

Of course, the expectatio­n when all those pieces were put together was that Padgett would have more time to work with the two and develop them into the building blocks the coaching staff still believes they will become. But that’s been hard to do, with COVID-19 restrictio­ns on practices in Albuquerqu­e and having to relocate out of state just to practice while borrowing gym time from other schools.

But, as Padgett discussed in a conversati­on recorded for Episode 35 of the Journal’s Talking Grammer Podcast, the goals might have been delayed, but they haven’t changed.

“The hard part is just the lack of one-on-one time that we’ve been able to have with them, but we’ve worked a ton on just positionin­g and pre-catch positionin­g for bigs,” said Padgett.

Padgett had mentored big men like former Lobo Tim Williams at Samford, where Padgett was an assistant before taking over as head coach for the previous six seasons.

“It’s something they’ve never worked on in their life. … So, it’s something that you’ll see glimpses of right now. And we’d like to keep seeing more and more.”

Padgett talked at length in the podcast about influences in his basketball journey that have impacted his coaching — like being recruited by and playing for Rick Pitino. He won a national title at Kentucky, and also reached the final in 1997, losing there to Arizona, where La Cueva graduate A.J. Bramlett was an opposing big man.

He also talked of playing in the NBA for coach Jerry Sloan, “the toughest guy I’ve ever met.” Padgett also spoke of getting close to Karl Malone and then, after being traded to the Houston Rockets, being a teammate of 7-6 Yao Ming, who Padgett said was “the most skilled big man that played during my time.”

Padgett also talks about the uniqueness of moving his family — “The Padgett Five” as he calls them with wife Cynthia, sons Logan (a walk-on sophomore forward for the Lobo basketball team) and Lucas, and daughter Layla — to a new state in the middle of a pandemic and how they can’t wait to actually get out and meet some people in Albuquerqu­e soon.

THAT OTHER PADGETT BOY: Scott and Logan are known by now among UNM hoops fans, but are just two of the three Padgett boys hoping to make noise on the local sports scene.

Lucas Padgett, the middle Padgett child with younger sister Layla being the high school freshman volleyball star, may have expected to be a well known name among local sports fans by now, too.

The 6-foot-4, 290-pound senior offensive lineman at La Cueva High School was selected after his junior season in Alabama to play in next week’s Blue-Grey All-American Bowl for high school players in the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.

He is listed as representi­ng La Cueva — the only New Mexico player on the national all-star roster — though he’s not yet taken a class in the building itself since moving here in a time with virtual learning.

He hopes to still play this spring for the Bears, but recruiting certainly hasn’t gone as planned for the high school senior who moved to a new state and hasn’t been able to play. So, what about staying home next year in Albuquerqu­e to play for the Lobos and head coach Danny Gonzales?

“Tell Danny we’d love it,” Scott Padgett joked. “It’s one of those things — I think it comes back to who we are. I’d be lying if I said that part of Logan’s decision to come (to UNM this season for basketball) didn’t have to do with it. We’re a close family. … Logan and Lucas are best friends. …

“Then obviously as a parent loving having your kid around, you know, and being able to go to his games — because if he goes somewhere else, once school starts around, we’re in full mode. It’s hard to get to games if he went somewhere else.”

Scott Padgett said he already preordered the DVD of next week’s all-star game, “so I can watch him play football one time his senior year.”

McGEE COMEBACK?: Last week, Lobo basketball senior guard Keith McGee, citing concerns over mental health with the team being relocated out of state all season, opted out of the rest of the season.

He remains on scholarshi­p and Paul Weir said he was happy that in his conversati­on with McGee, the focus of the Rochester, New York, native was about finishing up coursework this semester to earn a degree.

With Tuesday’s news that the team can come back to Albuquerqu­e, at least to practice, it remains unclear if that changes McGee’s status. The Journal on Tuesday night requested a comment from Weir.

In a meeting with local media earlier in the day, UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez said, “That’s a conversati­on … coach Weir will have.”

 ?? COURTESY SAMFORD ATHLETICS ?? One of the main duties for first-year University of New Mexico basketball assistant Scott Padgett has been working with the Lobo big men.
COURTESY SAMFORD ATHLETICS One of the main duties for first-year University of New Mexico basketball assistant Scott Padgett has been working with the Lobo big men.

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