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New Mexico basketball: Nikola Scekic leaves program in seek of more playing time

Freshman Nikola Scekic is leaving the New Mexico program in search of more playing time.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The New Mexico Lobos are losing freshman center Nikola Scekic who announced via Twitter prior to the conference opener against Nevada that he is leaving the program, which he joined this summer.

Scekic was considered a huge get for the Lobos and he chose to go West despite holding an offer from Georgetown. The reason for the move was because of wanting more playing time.

"I want to go somewhere where I can play more minutes to get better," Scekic told the Albuquerque Journal before the Nevada game. "You've seen. Here I play sometimes, not every game. Sometimes one minute. Sometimes two. I want to get better."

In this young season, Scekic averaged 1.7 points per game, 7.5 minutes per game, and saw action in 10 of the 13 games this year. He played a season-high 12 minutes against New Mexico State back on a Dec. 16.

Head coach Craig Neal and Scekic never spoke about this issue but the news came one of his advisers that he was not happy with his current situation with the Lobos and is choosing to leave.

"It’s this era," Neal said of Scekic’s wanting to play more minutes. "Great kid. Really was improving. Just wanted to play a bigger ole. Wanted to play more minutes. That was his decision. We’ll wish him well."

Neal saw improvement with the freshman and is disappointed that he is leaving the program, but he is also not going to restrict where the freshman can continue his college career by granting his full release. It is expected that Scekic is going to head back East but there is no early indication of which schools he will be targeting.

Assuming that Scekic enrolls prior to the spring semester he will be eligible to play after sitting a year and be back on the court in January of 2017.

These transfers happen often enough now that this is a prime reason that coaches, including Neal, never stop recruiting even when their scholarship limit has been reached. If one slows down on the recruiting trail then a team could be left in the lurch if players transfer.