Inspiring the next generation of athletes

Inspiring the next generation of athletes

This year, Lobo basketball has really left its mark... and younger athletes are taking notice. Here's how UNM is inspiring the next generation of athletes.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico is all about basketball right now. There’s the high school state tournament at The Pit, and the Lobos are tipping off in Las Vegas in the Mountain West Tournament semifinals.

Tamara Lopez caught up with some local coaches who went from playing at The Pit to inspiring the next generation of athletes.

“Man, I love it, I love it. I’ve been waiting for us to get back there to play at the level we’re capable of.”

Former Lobo basketball player Dairese Gary says it’s great to be back in Albuquerque and Lobo nation.

“People are always calling me, did you see this, did you see that, and I’m like, yeah, I got a big smile, proud to say that I was able to play for the university, so they’re kicking butt right now,” he said.

This time he’s coaching at the Albuquerque Basketball Prep Academy.

Owner Brandon Mason said they help players reach their dreams.

“In the last two seasons we’ve had we’ve put 24 kids in college, four so far going Division I, another Division I commit and we’ve already had a few kids commit Division II,” Mason said.

Including his son, freshman Brandon Mason Junior, who’s already gotten some serious interest.

“Growing up with my dad, I’ve been playing since I was a little kid so I’ve been playing for a really long time so I have a strong love for the game so it’s really like my heart,” Mason Junior said.

So it’s no surprise how excited he is about all of New Mexico’s basketball success this season.

“It’s really cool to see how successful New Mexico basketball has been, especially with Eastern winning the championship and stuff so it’s pretty cool to see how successful we’ve been.”

Just days ago the Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds won the Lone Star Conference tournament, and now they’ll play in the NCAA Division II tournament starting this weekend.

That success, partnered with the Lobos’ momentum at the Mountain West tournament, solidifies the reputation as a basketball state.

“Everything that New Mexico brings out of state you know if you look at CBS Sports, they always show our fans and our fans only because there’s nothing like that,” Mason said.

Gary said this milestone season takes him right back to when he played in The Pit.

“It’s just something that you never forget,” Gary said.

The Greyhounds play in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament Saturday at 11 a.m. They play Colorado Mesa.