When UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford fired Derek Kellogg last month, saying a leadership change was needed to reach “a higher level of competitive success,” he ran the risk, as does any program following such a decision, of some players departing.
That risk was fully realized Wednesday following DeJon Jarreau and Brison Gresham’s decision to transfer out of the program. Five players have now announced their intent to transfer, while a sixth, Donte Clark, will test the NBA Draft waters. Clark’s future at UMass remains unclear.
Newly-hired coach Matt McCall must now replace nearly half the roster, rebuilding a team that has finished under .500 in each of the last two seasons.
So, where does he go from here?
Let’s first look at who he will replace.
The departure of Jarreau and Gresham, two freshmen and highly-touted recruits prior to the start of the season, inhibits UMass’ long-term plans the most. Jarreau, a four-star recruit, averaged 9.8 points per game in an up-and-down freshman season while Gresham, a 6-foot-9 forward, averaged 3.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.
They were a package deal – and could still be, depending on where they transfer – and were thought of as two building blocks prior to Kellogg’s firing.
Zach Lewis, Zach Coleman and Seth Berger are also transferring. All three are eligible to play immediately as graduate transfers; Lewis will play at Iona, Berger at Oregon State, while Coleman is still undecided.
Among them, Lewis contributed the most last season, averaging 8.8 points per game as the first player off the bench. Coleman and Berger were role players when healthy, and provide some length, but neither remained on the court consistently.
Players returning (as of April 19)
Here are the players who are still listed on UMass’ roster.
- Donte Clark (G)
- Luwane Pipkins (G)
- Unique McLean (G)
- Chris Baldwin (F)
- Malik Hines (F)
- Rayshawn Miller (Walk-on guard)
- C.J. Anderson (G)
- Ty Flowers (F)
- Rashaan Holloway (C)
Clark is included, although he’s far from guaranteed to return, as he continues to mull his options with one year of eligibility remaining. He was UMass’ leading scorer, but will returning to a team in transition appeal to someone clearly sizing up his professional options?
McCall does have some pieces to build around. Holloway, a hulking center who has worked his way into shape over the past two seasons, averaged 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Anderson, meanwhile, is a steady, versatile guard entering his senior season. It’s unlikely that transferring at this point in their respective careers is appealing.
Pipkins, who will be a sophomore, sat out his true freshman year, meaning transferring and sitting out another season is likely unappealing as well. He averaged 10.2 points per game as a freshman and is a strong on-ball defender. Hines averaged 3.5 points in just over 11 minutes per game as a sophomore.
Beyond them, both Baldwin and Flowers have three years of eligibility…