Neal Lands Big Recruit, Sets the Tone at New Mexico

Dane Kuiper- 2015

Dane Kuiper, the number one ranked player in Arizona for the 2015 class, decided to end the recruiting process on Sunday.  The 6’6” shooting guard verbally committed to New Mexico, turning down offers from Creighton, Portland, Oregon State and San Diego State.   

Kuiper grew up in Alaska and recently moved to Arizona in hopes of drawing more recruiting attention.  He quickly earned the reputation as one of the top prospects in the state. 

During his sophomore season at Wasilla High School in Alaska, Kuiper averaged 19.5 points and 8 rebounds per game.  He has already admitted the competition is much better in Arizona and feels that his game will benefit from going against better talent. 

Kuiper has yet to play a high school game in Arizona, but has certainly excelled for his AAU team, the Arizona Power.  He became a recruiting focus for many schools, but first year head coach Craig Neal was particularly focused on making Kuiper a Lobo.

Kuiper is a pure shooter and has deep range.  He has a knack for finding open gaps to spot up and receive the kick out.  He has a lanky, athletic frame, giving him the ability to run the floor and make plays in transition. 

The rising junior already has the body of a college athlete, but has two years of high school to continue developing his game.  Making an early commitment gives him the ability to tailor his game to the style of play Neal wants to execute. 

Kuiper was a big recruit for Neal to get and sets the tone for what kind of talent he is expecting to bring to New Mexico.  After spending nine years as an assistant coach to Steve Alford, who left to become the head coach at UCLA, Neal has received a lot of support in his new head role. 

When Alford left, many of the players stated that they wanted Neal to become their new head coach.  Even more interesting is that his son, Cullen Neal, got out of his letter of intent at Saint Mary’s and will be playing for his father at New Mexico. 

This is a testament to Neal’s ability to form good relationships with his players and still demand excellence out of them on the court.  Anytime a team respects their head coach, they are far more likely to be successful. 

Neal will coach his first game as a head coach in August when the Lobos travel to Australia to play three games.  After ending last season with a loss to Harvard, a 14-seed, the Lobos are hungry to start another season and handle some unfinished business.