Evan Gilyard Changes The Battle of I-10 Rivalry
Late yesterday evening, Evan Gilyard ended months of speculation when he chose his new school via Twitter.
The fact that the Miners' leading scorer from this past season chose his top rival is unprecedented. Gilyard, a 5-10 guard from Chicago reportedly decided on the Aggies after also receiving an offer from New Mexico. He averaged 14.5 points in four games against NMSU during his first two seasons at UTEP, including a 25-point effort last November. Gilyard will have to sit out the 2019-20 season but he will have two years of eligibility with the Aggies.
The really interesting takeaway from the story is that UTEP and NMSU can no longer block each other when players transfer from both schools. That rule changed last June when players who enter the transfer portal can be blocked only by schools from within their conference. Gilyard is the first UTEP or NMSU player to take advantage of the new NCAA rule but others could follow in the years to come.
As for the rivalry, things just became much more interesting. NMSU has owned UTEP over the last eight years (13-3), and the addition of Gilyard will give head coach Chris Jans another scoring weapon. Last season, the two teams exchanged words prior to tipoff at the Don Haskins Center. Many of the new Miners cannot wait to get their first chance to play the Aggies later this year. Gilyard will be more motivated than ever when he plays against the Miners and Rodney Terry twice each season. His first appearance at the Don Haskins Center in late 2020 will be a wild scene, and the I-10 Rivalry will be more intense than ever before.