In Year 2, Kuiper ready to accept larger role with New Mexico

October 26, 2016

Dane Kuiper

Dane Kuiper

The training wheels appear to be coming off Dane Kuiper, the Wasilla basketball player who came to the University of New Mexico with hopeful expectations.

The highly touted 6-foot-7 swingman was used sparingly in 25 games last season as a freshman, although he still managed to show flashes of brilliance in limited action.

Kuiper figures to play a much larger role with the Lobos this season, and he has already established himself behind the scenes.

“Dane’s going to be in the rotation,” New Mexico coach Craig Neal told the Albuquerque Journal. “I think Dane has been our leading scorer through 15 practices.

“He’s played at a high, high level. Now, you’ve got to realize some of the [starting] guys have been out some of those practices, but he’s played really, really well.”

Kuiper, of Wasilla High fame, averaged 8.3 minutes as a rookie and had nights where he was on the floor down the stretch. The game that stands out was the one against San Jose State when he set career high 11-4-4 totals in 28 minutes.

In all, he scored a total of 37 points thanks in large part to 6-of-18 3-point shooting and 7-of-9 free throws.

He’ll probably score that much in the first month of the season this year.

“I feel like I’m a lot better adjusted to the speed this year and I know all the plays this year,” Kuiper told the Journal. “They’re not as new to me, so I’m able to teach the younger guys a little, which just helps me learn things even better. Overall, I just feel more comfortable.”

Kuiper left Wasilla after his sophomore season of high school for Arizona, where he was named the state’s top basketball recruit his senior year.