UNO is establishing a basketball recruiting connection with New Mexico Junior College.
Thunderbirds coach James Miller said Friday that Devin Patterson, a 5-foot-11 point guard with three years of eligibility remaining, committed to a scholarship offer and will sign a national letter of intent with the Mavericks on Monday.
He’ll join Alex Phillips, a wing who transferred last year from New Mexico JC to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Phillips became a starter early in the season, and finished fifth on the team in scoring (8.2 points per game), third in 3-point percentage (.375) and was one of the Mavs’ top perimeter defenders.
“It definitely doesn’t hurt that Alex has had a good experience there,” Miller said. “That helped Devin feel comfortable about it. They were here together for a couple of weeks last summer.”
Miller has a connection, too. He was on UNO assistant Pat Eberhart’s staff when Eberhart was the coach at Division II Colorado State-Pueblo.
Miller said Patterson averaged 6.0 points, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 40 percent from the field and 70 percent from the foul line last season as the backup point guard behind Rob Turner.
“He’s a very good defender, extremely quick, and a good shooter from 3,” Miller said. “He was really, really good the last month of the season and definitely would have been our starter this year.”
Turner is being recruited by Atlantic 10 and Horizon League schools, Miller said, with Texas Tech and Minnesota beginning to show late interest.
Patterson had offers from North Carolina Central, Cal State-Bakersfield and several others, Miller said.
“A lot of that has to do with the fact that not many knew he could leave (and be eligible to play in Division I) after one year,” Miller said. “Omaha did its homework and knew about it.”
The coach said Campbell of the Big South had offered a scholarship to the Portsmouth, Va., native out of high school, but pulled it back before Patterson qualified.
“Devin is a good player, and his chance to shine would have been next year, but at the same time it was really in his best interest to go to Omaha where he has a chance to compete right away and have a good three-year career for them,” Miller said.
UNO was 11-20 last season and went 6-10 for sixth place in its first year in the Summit League.
The Mavs signed two players in the fall: wing Nick Billingsley of Omaha Central and forward Rylan Murry of West Branch, Iowa. They will have one scholarship available for next season after Patterson signs.
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