Ray Barreno leaves Tulane men’s basketball program _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- UTEP forward Vince Hunter (32) grabs a rebound against Tulane center Ray Barreno in February at Devlin Fieldhouse.

Tulane forward Ray Barreno is leaving the program after one season.

Green Wave coach Ed Conroy confirmed Barreno’s transfer to New Mexico Junior College on Wednesday morning.

“Ray wanted to be closer to home, and I absolutely understand why he does,” Conroy said. “I wish all the best going forward.”

Barreno, a 6-foot-11 center, did not receive a formal release from the university, because he decided to attend a two-year school which is not under NCAA protocols. He is the second freshman to leave the program this month, joining Mikael Herbert.

Although Barreno played just 20 total minutes in seven games this season, his departure does affect the Green Wave roster.

It leaves Tulane precariously thin in the frontcourt with just one center remaining on the roster — rising sophomore Ryan Smith — and one other low post presence, senior Tre Drye.

For now, the Green Wave has its sights set on attaining the signature of its top recruiting target, 7-foot-1 Canadian prospect Link Kabadyundi, to help fill the void.

“Things are moving,” Conroy said. “There’s going to be plenty happening for us.”