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May 22—There’s always room for a 6-foot-11 forward.

Some fans may have thought there would be a quiet period for Lobo basketball between last week’s end of the spring semester and the June 6 reporting date for players to start summer classes.

Instead, UNM men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino on Friday night secured another commitment for a 2021-22 roster that now sits two above the NCAA-allowed limit of 13 scholarship players.

Birima Seck, a 6-foot-11 forward who is from Senegal and played this past season for Dream City Christian prep school in Glendale, Ariz., announced on social media that he would join the Lobos for the coming season. He also played two years in Spain before coming to the United States.

“They’re going to see a player who is going to work to get better every day,” Seck told the Journal in a telephone interview on Friday night. “My goal is to help the program get some championships.”

Seck held offers from Kansas, Texas Tech, TCU, South Florida and Arizona State.

Seck initially was recruited by Lobos assistant Andy Hill, a former longtime Utah Utes assistant who is noted for having found and recruited star Austrian center Jakob Poeltl. Pitino and the entire Lobos staff later joined in. Seck said he chose UNM when he became convinced the staff will develop him in a sport he only started playing in 2016.

“I played soccer my whole life. My whole family loves soccer,” Seck said about his sport of choice until he started trying basketball in 2016 when a friend convinced him to come with him to Spain to train at an academy there.

The dream of pursuing basketball one day as a professional has now brought him to choose the Lobos staff.

“I wanted to go somewhere to play basketball and get better every day,” Seck said. “I don’t want to go somewhere to not play and sit on the bench. I talked to coach Pitino and his staff and they said that I have a bright future and they can help me.”

But that doesn’t mean Seck expects minutes to come easy on the Lobos roster.

“I have to work hard to get my chance to play,” Seck said. “All I know is they can help me with my future.”

On his Friday evening Instagram post announcing his commitment, Seck thanked family, the staff at Dream City Christian “for giving me a chance and making me a much better player in only one season,” and those at the Canterbury Basketball Academy in Spain, where he spent two years working on his game.

“I’m so thankful for the opportunity and the faith the @unmlobombb coaching staff have shown in me,” Seck wrote. “I can’t wait to get started!”

His addition is Lobo newcomer No. 9 for the Class of 21. With six returning scholarship players still on the roster, that puts the number of scholarships committed at the moment to the 2021-22 season at 15. The NCAA allows just 13 for Division I men’s basketball.

Whether all nine expected newcomers qualify or end up enrolling at UNM or whether any of the six remaining returning scholarship players enter the NCAA transfer portal remains to be seen, and the roster does not have to be settled until the start of the fall semester at UNM.

Current roster

Here is a breakdown of the UNM Lobo men’s basketball roster as it stands today:

RETURNING (6* scholarships):

—G Jeremiah Francis III, 6-1

—G Javonte Johnson, 6-6

—G Eloy Medina, 6-3 (walk-on)

—G Clay Patterson, 6-1 (walk-on)

—G Saquan Singleton, 6-6

—G/F Emmanuel Kuac, 6-7

—F Jordan Arroyo, 6-7 (walk-on)

—F Rod Brown, 6-8

—F/C Valdir Manuel, 6-10

NEWCOMERS (9 scholarship):

—F Jay Allen-Tovar, 6-9, transfer from Salt Lake Community College

—C Sebastian Forsling, 6-11, from Sweden

—G Jaelen House, 6-1, transfer from Arizona State

—G K.J. Jenkins, 6-2, transfer from Kilgore College (Texas)

—G/F Jamel King, 6-7, Bella Vista Prep (Scottsdale)

—G Jamal Mashburn Jr., 6-2, transfer from Minnesota

—F Gethro Muscadin, 6-10, transfer from Kansas

—C Birima Seck, 6-11, Dream Christian School (Glendale)

—G Taryn Todd, 6-5, transfer from TCU