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Santa Margarita's Furstinger commits to New Mexico

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Santa Margarita senior Joe Furstinger committed to the University of New Mexico on Saturday, Eagles coach Jeff Reinert and Furstinger's mother, Janelle, confirmed.

Furstinger, a 6-foot-8 forward, was visiting the New Mexico campus with his family over the weekend when he made his decision. 

A three-star recruit according to scout.com, Furstinger had drawn interest from Pac-12 and West Coast Conference schools among others. Reinert mentioned St. Mary’s, Arizona State and Loyola Marymount as schools that had been strongly recruiting Furstinger as of late.

“Joe just felt like (New Mexico) was the place for him,” Reinert said. 

Furstinger was an All-CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA selection last season after leading the Eagles in both scoring (16.8 points per game) and rebounding. Santa Margarita went 16-16 and advanced to the CIF-SS Division 3AA championship game, where it lost to Damien of La Verne. 

Reinert, who has Division 1 coaching experience as an assistant at Fresno State, Oregon State and BYU among others, said Furstinger’s strengths include a long, rangy frame and the ability to impact a game defensively.

“I think his ceiling is pretty high. I don’t think he’s tapped out on how good he can be,” Reinert said. “I think he’s a … high-major guy down the road and the stronger he gets, the better he’ll get.”

Reinert is familiar with New Mexico, having started his own playing career with the Lobos before transferring to Gonzaga. He said his connection to New Mexico didn’t affect his guidance of Furstinger.

“It’s a basketball-crazy environment. The gym is pretty impressive,” Reinert said. “And that’s something that Joe wanted, to go to a place where basketball is really important.”

The Lobos, who last season won the Mountain West Conference and were a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament, will have a new head coach this season; former assistant Craig Neal took over for Steve Alford who left to become the head coach at UCLA.

“New Mexico was kind of a good fit for him,” Reinert said. “The way they play is a good fit for Joe. Joe is going to translate into a (power forward) that can step out to the perimeter but also post up guys”

Furstinger will be able to defend both small and power forwards in college, Reinert said.

Furstinger and the Eagles begin the 2013-14 season in early December.

Asked whether he thought Furstinger wanted to get his commitment out of the way before his senior season, Reinert said, “As time went on I think it was important to him. I made it very clear to him that he didn’t have to commit right now.

“It was truly a decision that the family and Joe wanted to make and I think they went into it (planning on) taking more visits, but I think they just felt right for them when they were down there and they just felt like committing would be a good thing to do.”

Contact the writer: 949-454-7323 or jwilkinson@ocregister.com


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