With this season marking the 20th anniversary of their trip to the Final Four, UMass will honor former head coach John Calipari Wednesday night at halftime of their game against New Orleans. The school will raise a banner in Calipari’s honor and the current Kentucky head coach will be in attendance at Mullins Center as his current team is won’t play its next game until Saturday against Ohio State in Brooklyn.
Tuesday afternoon it was announced that the Minutemen will wear special jerseys for the game, bringing back the cursive “UMass” script worn by Calipari’s 1995-96 team.
Of course Wednesday’s festivities do have some objectors, as UMass’ trip to the Final Four was eventually vacated after it was found that Marcus Camby, that season’s winner of the Naismith and Wooden awards, received money from an agent. Calipari was found by the NCAA to have done nothing wrong himself, but that hasn’t stopped some from questioning whether or not the coach should be honored by UMass.
Earlier this year there was a similar situation at Memphis, where the school announced that it would honor Calipari for his accomplishments there before changing their minds the following day as a result of fans voicing their displeasure. Calipari, who won five Atlantic 10 regular season and five Atlantic 10 tournament titles while at UMass, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September.
Current UMass head coach Derek Kellogg played for Calipari at the school from 1991-95.
One of the potential impact freshman in the Atlantic 10 is still waiting to be cleared by the NCAA.
Luwane Pipkins, who committed to UMass as a Rivals150 prospect back in May 2014, is still waiting to hear from NCAA Eligibility Center as the Minutemen enter the first week of practice, according to Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
“He hasn’t been deemed anything yet by the NCAA,” UMass head coach Derek Kellogg told reporters on Monday. “He’s in limbo to a certain extent. He’s been running the hills of Amherst on his own and doing some things to stay in shape while we wait on his outcome.”
The 5-foot-10 point guard did not make the Minutemen’s trip to Europe this summer; needing to finish high school coursework before heading to Amherst for the fall semester.
Pipkins, rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals, could be a big part of the future for UMass basketball. Trey Davis and Jabari Hines are set to graduate this year, leaving the ball duties in the hands of the Chicago native. Kellogg has hit the recruiting trail hard in recent months, securing commitments from guards DeJon Jarreau and Unique McLean, as well as forwards Chris Baldwin and Brison Gresham, adding to a group of returners for the 2016-17 season that should include Pipkins and shooting guard Donte Clark.
UMass opens the 2015-16 season against Howard on Nov. 14 at home.
UMass landed a big recruiting coup on Monday afternoon as the talented New Orleans package deal of guard De’Jon Jarreau and forward Brison Gresham committed to the Minutemen.
Jarreau and Gresham pledged to the Atlantic 10 school over Miami and they’re the rare package deal who followed through on going to the same school after taking official visits together during the process. Regarded as the No. 39 overall prospect in the 2016 class, the 6-foot-4 Jarreau averaged 8.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2 assists per game this spring and summer. Gresham, a three-star prospect and No. 132 overall prospect, averaged 7.4 points, 7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game with Elfrid Payton Elite.
Besides both playing for Elfrid Payton Elite in the Nike EYBL, the duo attends McDonogh 35. Joining the New Orleans duo in the UMass Class of 2016 is guard Unique McLean and head coach Derek Kellogg is getting a lot of talent into the program.