Oct. 26—Saquan Singleton's long journey to play in front of a Pit crowd has hit another snag.
Doctors over the weekend informed the 6-foot-6 senior guard from the Bronx, New York, they discovered an unspecified "heart abnormality" that will prevent, at least for the time being, his ability to practice with or play basketball. The UNM Lobos announced the news Monday.
"Life is unpredictable," Singleton wrote in a social media post after the announcement.
"Enjoy the good times, and never take anything for granted. Despite the diagnosis, I'm blessed to still be here and can't wait for the opportunity to get back on the court with my teammates. It's in Gods hands."
Singleton was not made available to talk with media on Monday, but Lobos coach Richard Pitino echoed the sentiment that Singleton can return to the court this season. The coach did not elaborate on specifics of the heart condition or on any potential timetable for a return.
"It's a positive and a negative," Pitino said. "The positive is the doctors have caught it, which is obviously very, very important. But, you know, basketball is Saquan's life. And to take that away from him indefinitely is tough. ... Feel for him from a basketball standpoint, but happy that the doctors were able to catch it before something worse might have happened."
Singleton missed practices at the beginning of the month for what the team said were "COVID protocols," though not saying he had tested positive for the viral respiratory illness. Before being allowed to return to practice, team doctors require all players held out for such reasons to pass a series of tests, including tests of the heart.
While myocarditis — inflammation in the heart often caused by viral infections — has been linked to COVID-19, Pitino said doctors said this is not believed to be related to COVID.
Singleton came to UNM last season after two years at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College. While playing the entire season outside the state of New Mexico due to state health restrictions, Singleton finished the 2020-21 season leading the Lobos in assists, was second on the team in scoring and third in rebounding. This season he had already been credited by coaches and teammates as a leader in the locker room.
"I can't wait. Every day, I just wake up closer to that day to open the Pit," Singleton said Oct. 11 about the approaching season. "I heard about the Pit before I even committed to New Mexico. ... I just love basketball. And I know the fans love basketball too. So we'll definitely get along together."
His difficult road to UNM from a rough neighborhood in New York to prep school to junior college to now led two national companies — Degree antiperspirant and Clearcover car insurance — selecting him over the summer to be a part of separate ad campaigns highlighting stories of college athletes overcoming extreme adversity.