JASON FARMER NEWS-SUN
July 20, 2018
Hobbs graduate Clay Strasner, center, signs his letter of intent to attend school and play basketball for New Mexico Junior College next year. Seated next to Strasner are his parents while NMJC coaches stand in the back.
Clay Strasner, a 2018 Hobbs graduate, drives around a Clovis defender during an Eagles win last year. Strasner will be playing for New Mexico Junior College next season.
For three years, Clay Strasner was a force on the Hobbs basketball court. But then he suffered a season-ending injury during the state playoffs, ending his time with the Eagles. While his time with the Eagles came to an end when he graduated in May, his time playing basketball in Hobbs is still going as the 2018 graduate inked at letter of intent to play for New Mexico Junior College next season.
"It means a lot that they were interested and I was able to come here," Strasner said. "It shows that they felt that I could play here and hopefully play here. I haven't played in a long time after the injury. I am just looking forward to playing and getting back on the floor."
New Mexico Junior College head coach Luke Adams spoke highly of Strasner's character and what he brings to the Thunderbirds.
"I like him a lot," Adams said. "I really like what he stands for, just as a person and he is just what we want our team to become. He is a hardworking guy who brings it everyday to compete and I like that about him the most. I think he is a good kid and I want guys like that on my team."
With school starting next month, Strasner said he was relieved to finally have his decision made.
"It means a lot (to know where I am going)," Strasner said. "It is a lot of stress taken off. Now I can just get ready for the season and just get ready to play."
Statistically speaking, Strasner is one of best players to play for the Eagles. Over his high school career, Strasner scored 1,588 points, third most is school history. His 710 rebounds are good seventh all time in Hobbs history. His points per game mark of 18.04 is good for the 12th highest mark in school history while his 26.6 points a game last season is the seventh highest for one season.
"I think it is a great opportunity for Clay," former Hobbs head coach Mike Smith said. "I hope he gets to play a lot out there."
As well as he played in high school, Strasner knows playing in college will be a lot harder than playing at the high school level. Having had the local fans watching him for three years, he knows they might expect more out of him at the college level, but he is ready to do what he can to help the Thunderbirds succeed.
"All I can do is get in the gym and workout and just continue to make my game better," Strasner said. "It is going to be way different (from high school). (College) plays way faster. They are stronger and jump higher."
The quality of teams and play that NMJC constantly puts out on the court was one of the biggest draws for Strasner.
"That was the main reason that I choose to come here," he said. "It is a good program and they have a lot of good teams and players come through here."
Another selling point on NMJC for Strasner was its proximity to home. Having grown up in Hobbs and now getting to attend college in Hobbs was big for the former Eagle.
"If I ever need anything, I can just go home," Strasner said. "My mom, dad, and a lot of family are here. It is just going to be a lot of support real close to the school and a lot fans can come out and watch us play."
Despite staying in his hometown, Strasner said he will live on campus. He also said he plans to major in business and hopefully own his own company somewhere in the future.