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Basketball player Elijah Brown to transfer from UNM

J.R. Oppenheim
March 20, 2017 10:33 PM

Guard Elijah Brown, the leading scorer for the University of New Mexico men's basketball team, will use his last year of eligibility elsewhere and play at another school, Lobo head coach Craig Neal announced Monday afternoon.

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Brown will depart UNM through the graduate transfer rule, meaning he will not be required to sit out a season before returning to the court because he earned an academic degree. Brown transferred to UNM from Butler, sat for one season and played the next two.

According to his biography on the athletic department's website, Brown majored in communications. There was no immediate word where Brown will go.

"I want to say thank you to Lobo Nation for a three years that was full of love and support," Brown said in a Twitter post. "I felt like I was able to grow and learn a lot while I was here.  I have to do what is best for me at the end of the day which is why I will be moving on from UNM for my graduate year."

Last year, UNM basketball player Cullen Neal transferred to the University of Mississippi utilizing the same rule.

Speculation about Brown's future with the program emerged following the Lobos' quarterfinal loss at the Mountain West tournament in Las Vegas. When asked during the postgame press conference that day, Brown declined to comment on his future.

On Monday, Neal expressed gratitude to Brown for the contributions he made to the UNM program.

"He has matured and developed over the last three years, which led him to being one of the top Mountain West players the last two seasons," Neal said in a statement. "He is an incredibly talented player, who brought a lot of excitement to our fans and to The Pit."

Neal is currently on the road for a recruiting trip and was not available for comment.

Brown averaged nearly 18 points per game this past season to lead the team. The Lobos went 17-14 overall and 10-8 in the conference. UNM failed to reach 20 wins for the last three seasons.

Click here for the statistics from the Lobos' 2016-17 season

Brown apologized for not delivering on the success he said Lobo fans deserved.

"I feel real bad about that … but nothing can change the tradition of what Lobo basketball is," Brown said in his tweet. "Coach Neal, his staff, and my teammates were nothing bug great to me and I love them for that."

"No doubt this is a tough decision for all involved but especially for Elijah, but we are a family and we will always support all of our players pursuing their goals," Neal added. "We congratulate Elijah on his upcoming graduation from UNM, which is an awesome accomplishment and wish him nothing but the best."

With Brown's departure, UNM lost its two main contributors over the last two seasons. Forward Tim Williams completed his senior season and will graduate. Both Brown and Williams earned spots on the All-Mountain West teams this season although Williams missed a month to injury. Williams scored 17.5 points per game.

UNM also loses another senior in center Obij Aget. While UNM will lose three starting players, Neal said he felt optimistic about the Lobos next season.

"I am excited about the upcoming season, as our core of talented young players come into their own, joined by an exceptionally strong recruiting class," Neal said. 

Credits

J.R. Oppenheim

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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