Northern New Mexico mens basketball coach Ryan Cordova is always looking to sign in-state talent, and he’s made a huge splash with his two latest local signings.
The Eagles inked Bernalillo High School standout Reyes Herrera on May 17 and will officially sign New Mexico School for the Deaf big man Deven Thompson on Wednesday (5/29).
What the Eagles will get in Herrera is a tough-minded, never afraid of contact guard who was awarded First-Team All-State by the New Mexico High School Coaches Association for Class 4A the last two seasons as a junior and senior.
Herrera helped lead the Spartans to the 2018 Class 4A state championship game while also competing on the football team, where he earned a Second-Team All-State selection at receiver as a senior.
“Reyes was one of those guards who just went under the radar,” Cordova said about his recruitment. “He’s tough, he’s a football kid, he likes contact, takes care of the ball and he’s a good basketball player who played for a good coach in Terry Darnell.”
The Spartans did not have as successful of a campaign this last season as in Herrera’s junior year — finishing 15-12 overall and losing in the first round of state to Gallup High School — but he still averaged 20.4 points, 4.2 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game, while always being coveted by opposing defensives.
“He’s not just a shooter, but he can get to the rack,” Cordova said. “He’s kind of a multidimensional player to be honest with you. Bernalillo struggled when he didn’t have the ball in his hands, but he still put up big stats and they rode on his shoulders all year and people don’t realize how good of a player he is.”
As for the 6-foot-10 Thompson, who’s fresh off his first place finish in the Class A shot put, his numbers on the basketball court speak for themselves. En route to earning Second-Team All-State in Class A in 2019, Thompson averaged 25.7 points, 15.9 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game.
He had a season-high 42 points against Jemez Valley High School and a high of 27 rebounds against Walatowa Charter School, while helping the Roadrunners to the most wins in a single-season (22) and capping off back-to-back district championships.
“I definitely believe Deven is the best big man in the state,” Cordova said. “To get Deven — no pun intended — is a big signing for us.”
Competing in New Mexico’s smallest classification had little impact on the mind of Cordova, knowing what he’s seen from Thompson in person, who he said has improved drastically each year. His ability to understand his body and spacing, his willingness to receive the ball down low and his coachability all excites his new coach.
“People don’t realize that if Deven was at a 5A school and not School for the Deaf, he’d be a low D1 or a high D2 player,” Cordova said. “Who knows, in a couple years somebody may spot him and say, ‘Hey, we need to get that kid.’ For right now, this is a great fit for him because he’s close to Santa Fe and he’s been at the School for the Deaf for the last 14 years.”
Thompson could make an immediate impact given the graduation of starter Ibrahima Diagne and the lack of other centers on the roster.
However, Northern will get another extra boost with the return of the 6-foot-9 Victor Faria from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Faria will return as a sophomore after playing for the Eagles as a freshman two seasons ago. He sat out last season and returned home to Brazil to have surgery on a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee, Cordova said.