Lobos' Devon Williams ends college basketball career after collapsing

New Mexico forward Devon Williams' college basketball career is over.

The junior forward collapsed during Sunday night's win at New Mexico State with what was determined to be a neck injury. He had collided with a teammate. He lay facedown for almost 10 minutes before being taken off the court on a stretcher.

Williams was taken to a Las Cruces hospital, where he was initially diagnosed with a cervical spinal cord bruise. It was later determined he has spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal.

"It was really hard," Williams said during a news conference in Albuquerque on Thursday. "I was thinking about it a lot. I kind of teared up and everything. But I realized that I'm still blessed to be able to walk because there was a chance that I could be paralyzed."

New Mexico coach Craig Neal said late Wednesday night that Williams won't play college basketball again due to a cervical spinal condition.

"He has a narrowing of his spinal column,'' Neal said in a text message to ESPN. "He saw a specialist and he advised him not to play. There was a fear of him being paralyzed. He said he was very lucky that it didn't happen against New Mexico State. He is fine. He is walking with no problems. He will live a great life and he can finish his degree and get a graduate degree.''

Neal said Williams will now act as another coach, sitting in on meetings and helping the Lobos prepare for their next opponent.

The 6-foot-8 Williams played 14 minutes in each of the first two games for the Lobos, and he averaged 6.7 points in 22.6 minutes per game last season.

Williams redshirted after arriving at New Mexico in 2012, and he played five games during the 2013-14 season before starting 30 games last season. He was penciled in to be a key reserve this season for the Lobos (3-0).

Players wrote Williams' initials and number on their shoes for Wednesday's 75-51 win over Loyola-Chicago, but meeting with them was still painful for Williams.

"We were kind of joking around a little bit, just trying to not keep things sad, but it was kind of hard thinking about it and talking about everything," Williams said. "We tried to have an uplifting vibe about it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.