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Aggie Mailbag: Rotation predictions, scholarship updates and more


Justin Martinez   | Las Cruces Sun-News
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LAS CRUCES – Mail time!

I began a weekly mailbag during New Mexico State's 2019-2020 basketball season, but it ultimately fizzled out due to a lack of questions being submitted. However, with not a lot of sports to follow nowadays, my inbox is getting pretty full. 

So I'm bringing this series back, and I'll keep it going as long as you all keep the questions coming. To send one my way, you can reach me on Twitter, Facebook or at my email address (JMMartinez@lcsun-news.com).

Each article will consist of 3-5 questions, and please also limit it to one question per entry.

Thank you to everyone who participated. Now, let's get started.

Question 1

From PojoaquePosse via Aggie Alert: By my count, we already have 14 players on scholarship. If (AJ) Harris gets a waiver, we will potentially have 15 on scholarship. The NCAA limit is 13. How is NMSU able to juggle all these players and their scholarships?

New Mexico State has seven returning players who are expected to be on scholarship: Rashaun Agee (who redshirted last year), Evan Gilyard, Clayton Henry, Wilfried Likayi, Johnny McCants, Will McNair and Jabari Rice.

The Aggies also have seven incoming transfers, and only those who came from a JUCO school are immediately eligible as of today. That list is Jason King (Snead State), C.J. Roberts (Ranger College) and Kalen Williams (Western Nebraska).

These three players should also be on scholarship, which brings New Mexico State’s total to 10 out of the maximum 13.

Then there are the team’s other four transfers who did not come from a JUCO school and are not immediately eligible as of today. That list is Mayan Kiir (USF), Donnie Tillman (UNLV), Jacob Tryon (Portland) and Marcus Watson (Oklahoma State).

New Mexico State is pursuing waivers for those players, and how that pans out will ultimately decide who is on scholarship. The other factor is if AJ Harris is granted a medical hardship waiver because he’ll surely be on scholarship.

In regard to your question, the short answer is that it's undetermined until more dominos fall into place. For now, the expectation is that those who have to sit out will not be on scholarship.

Question 2

From @LosVikings84 via Twitter: Any news on Jaquan Scott?

I don't have any news on Jaquan Scott.

For those not familiar with Scott, the 6-foot-8 forward from Mansfield, Texas is a senior at Universal Academy and a three-star prospect in 247Sports' Class of 2020.

Scott narrowed his list of schools down to Kansas and New Mexico State on April 18, and his decision was expected to come sometime in May. However, an announcement still has not been made and no updated timeline has been given.

Scott is an explosive finisher who doesn't shy away from contact around the rim, and he continues to improve his mid-range jumper as well.

Landing Scott would complicate New Mexico State's scholarship situation because he would take one of those spots, but it'd be a good problem to have for a program that doesn't usually snag this level of talent directly out of high school.

Question 3

From @AGGIEBOT via Aggie Alert: Hey Dude, have you heard anything on the basketball schedule?

More news on the Aggies' 2020-2021 schedule should come in any day now.

I was told that we would learn more about the schedule sometime during the first week of this month, but the team still hasn't finalized more dates.

As of right now, we know that New Mexico State has a road game against New Mexico on Nov. 21, a home game against New Mexico on Dec. 5 and a neutral game against Santa Clara in Las Vegas on Dec. 23.

Question 4

From @abqaggie49 via Twitter: What do you think the rotation at the 4 and 5 will be this upcoming season?

As you can see from the previous questions, it's hard to say at the moment because of all the question marks. But I'll answer this with two scenarios: The current rotation and the ideal rotation if pending waivers are approved.

Based off the current roster, I believe the starting frontcourt will be McCants and McNair. McCants has the potential to make an All-WAC team in his senior season, and McNair is one of my breakout picks on the squad.

Depth becomes an issue at the four, but this is where I feel Henry is invaluable as a small-ball power forward. I don't expect to see many instances where both he and McCants aren't on the court similar to how the Aggies were rarely without both Trevelin Queen and Jabari Rice last season due to a lack of wing depth.

Agee should also see time as a backup due to the 6-foot-7 big man's solid mobility, and Likayi is a backup center who has the potential to claim the starting center gig. I've likened his playing style to Pascal Siakam, so I feel he's someone to keep an eye on.

Next up is the ideal rotation. McCants' starting spot is secure, but I expect the starting center position to be an open competition between McNair, Tryon, Kiir and Likayi. For now, I'm still going with McNair since he has a year with the system under his belt.

Depth at the four spot still includes Henry, but look for Tillman to also shoulder the load.

The 6-foot-7 forward handles the ball like a guard, and he can provide spacing if he finds his touch from deep again. After shooting 36.1 percent from distance in his sophomore season at Utah, that rate dropped to 29.2 percent at UNLV. 

I'll put out an even more in-depth article on rotation and stat predictions for every player once we know the final roster, but this is the best I can do for now.

Question 5

From @TobiasRod1 via Twitter: Can we get a Stray Shooter "Chris Jans" edition?

I don't see why not!

The plan is to keep the weekly web series going for as much of the offseason as possible so I can give you guys some Aggie hoops content even when there isn't much news to report on.

Interviewing recently-graduated players, returning players and incoming transfers should give me about 20 weeks worth of episodes, so I'm definitely open to interviewing some staff members as well to keep this going a little longer.

Maybe I can get a hold of former Aggies who are now playing pro ball, too. Nothing is off the table!

Shameless plug: New episodes of Stray Shooter are released every Wednesday at 11 a.m. MT. You can find all of them on our Las Cruces Sun-News website or on our YouTube channel.

Justin Martinez can be reached at (575) 541-5455, JMMartinez@lcsun-news.com or @JTheSportsDude on Twitter. Make sure to subscribe to the Las Cruces Sun-News  to stay up to date with all local sports.