Pitino praises players who stayed as transfer portal closes -- here's what the current roster looks like

May 2—Richard Pitino missed his bed time on Wednesday night.

Although New Mexico men's basketball coach insists he was confident there would be no unexpected news at the deadline — 11:59 p.m. May 1 — for players to announce they had entered the transfer portal, New Mexico men's basketball coach wasn't asleep at his usual time and didn't turn the ringer off on his phone as he normally does.

"But I woke up (Thursday) morning and realized that none of my assistants or Amy (Beggin, UNM's director of compliance) or anyone called me, so we're good to go," Pitino said Thursday.

The volatile month of April came to a close with the Lobos losing three players to the transfer portal — guard Jamal Mashburn Jr., forward JT Toppin and center Sebastian Forsling and adding two transfers — guard CJ Noland from North Texas (and Oklahoma before that) and forward Filip Borovicanin from Arizona.

Mashburn and Forsling announced they were transferring only a few days after the end of the season. Toppin and his agent Ramon Sessions decided to wait until Monday — two days before the portal window closed — to enter the portal, meaning UNM found out it would be without a starting forward a month after the transfer portal first opened.

Thursday morning, in the modern way of addressing the nation (in this case, Lobo nation) Pitino let out an "all clear" message on social media that there had been no more roster defections, posting on X:

"Shoutout to Donovan, Q, Tru, Braden, Mustapha, Deraje, Nelly, and Shane for sticking with the Lobos. They all could have moved on but chose to continue to believe in what we are doing. Let's celebrate those that stay. We have added great pieces too! The future is bright!"

Later in the day, in a somewhat detailed explanation to the Journal, Pitino acknowledged that comments he made on March 22, after UNM's season ended, that he really didn't know what the transfer portal would do to the roster, were sincere.

"I mean, JT (Toppin) was always the one that, concerned isn't the right word, but I think we knew there was a possibility that he could leave," Pitino said. "And then when he did leave, you just didn't know what would be next because what happens is when somebody leaves, then it gives opportunities for other people to call all your guys and say, 'Oh, they're not going to be any good anymore.' ... Every school is dealing with it, but there's just so many rumors and you're pretty helpless. You try to communicate with your players the best you can.

"A lot of the (outside) communication that's going through these guys is not through them. It's through high school coaches. It's through AAU coaches. Now they have agents. So yeah, all the things I said after the season about they can all walk in and leave was a real possibility. And so when I tweeted that out (Thursday morning), I truly believe like all of those guys were recruited in some fashion, by somebody to leave here and all of them had to make a decision and say, I want to stay here. And I do believe they should be commended for that."

So, what's next?

The Lobos would like to fill at least two of the program's three open scholarships soon, to have as much as next season's roster on campus by June 1 as possible — that's when the first summer session of classes and workouts begins. The program can continue to recruit players into the fall semester.

The current 2024-25 UNM Lobo men's basketball roster (the NCAA allows 13 scholarship players in addition to walk-ons) looks like this:

PG Donovan Dent, 6-2

G Shane Douma Sanchez 6-1 (walk-on)

G Braden Appelhans, 6-7

G Tru Washington, 6-4

G/F Quinton Webb, 6-6

F Deraje Agbaosi, 6-7 (walk-on)

F Mustapha Amzil, 6-9

C Nelly Junior Joseph, 6-10

Prep newcomers

G Kayde Dotson, 6-2 — Beaumont (Texas) United

F Jovan Milicevic, 6-9 — Toronto (by way of Dream City Christian in Arizona)

G Dylan Chavez, 6-6 — La Cueva High School (walk-on)


G CJ Noland, 6-4 — North Texas/Oklahoma

F Filip Borovicanin, 6-9 — Arizona