The news has come down over the last day that two Lobo basketball players have entered the transfer portal. Neither one can be considered shocking, though Lobo fans might heed the news as disappointing on several levels.
The first player to announce that he was transferring was point guard JJ Caldwell. Caldwell saw action in 13 contests this season, averaging 5.8 points per game and was leading the Mountain West Conference with 5.7 assists per game when he was suspended indefinitely. Caldwell never had any charges filed against him after an alleged battery of his ex-girlfriend, yet UNM kept him suspended through the rest of the season.
While on the floor Caldwell complemented fellow guard JaQuan Lyle. Once Caldwell was suspended it showed in the Lobos inability to find a decent ball handler. Zane Martin was up and down in that department, as was Lyle. The biggest impact was on Lyle’s game. In the 13 contests that Caldwell and Lyle played together, only twice did Lyle score less than 10 points, and in two games he scored over 30. In the games Caldwell missed, Lyle scored less than 10 points eight times and failed to score over 30 in any of the remaining Lobo contests.
The other player that entered the transfer portal in the last 24 hours from UNM is Vance Jackson. The 6-foot-9 Jackson is scheduled to graduate this May and will be eligible to compete right away. For many Lobo fans this one will also sting but shouldn’t come as too big of a shock.
Jackson’s first season at UNM showed flashes of brilliance that led him to be recruited out of high school by UConn. After transferring to UNM, Jackson made an immediate impact, averaging 13.1 points per game. He became a handful for opposing defenses as he could shoot from the perimeter, as well as post up on the inside. The 2019-20 season began as a little bit of a struggle for Jackson. He scored in double-figures just twice in the first 12 contests of the season. He got going over the final 16 games, scoring in double-figures in 12 of the remaining games, including a string of six in a row to end the season.
While both of these aren’t too much of a shock that they’re transferring, it is a big loss for a Lobo team that will be bringing in a host of newcomers for the 2020-21 season.