UMass Minutemen

UMass unveils special uniforms for Wednesday’s game

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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.

UMass freshman Pipkins waiting to be cleared

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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 lands coveted 2016 package deal

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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.

Package deal from New Orleans down to two

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In college basketball recruiting, the phrase “package duo” is thrown around excessively, but in the case of New Orleans natives De’Jon Jarreau and Brison Gresham, it actually applies.

Jarreau, a four-star guard, and Gresham, a three-star forward, are high school and AAU teammates and they have taken official visits together to UMass and Miami. The duo announced on Twitter that they are down to those two schools in the recruiting process.

Teammates at McDonogh 35 with Elfrid Payton Elite in the Nike EYBL have been steady throughout the recruiting process in keeping things together. The duo cut their schools lists together and took visits together and now it appears they’re close to making a college decision together as well.

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.

Whoever lands this duo is getting a promising inside-outside duo that have played a lot of games together at the high school level. While Jarreau is generally considered to have more long-term upside because he has good size for his position, Gresham is a proven rebounder and rim protector who will also contribute at the high college level.

Calipari gives recruiting pitch for UMass

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John Calipari’s is one of 11 new members being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night in Springfield. Calipari began the day of his enshrinement 30 minutes up the road at UMass, where his head coaching career began 27 years ago.

On Friday morning, the university hosted Calipari for an honorary breakfast, celebrating the coach’s achievements. Calipari made a gesture of his own, providing a recruiting pitch on behalf of his old school after taking a tour of the basketball team’s brand-new practice facilities.

“I’ve gotta show you UMass’ new practice facility. One of the best I’ve seen,” Calipari posted on his Facebook and Twitter. “If you don’t go to Kentucky you should be going to UMass.”

Even after Calipari left UMass in 1996 to take over the New Jersey Nets, he remained connected to the school. Both of his daughters attended UMass, and the team’s current head coach, Derek Kellogg, was a former player and assistant coach.

UMass gave Calipari his first head coaching job in 1988. He started out roaming the sidelines of Curry Hicks Cage, the 4,000-seat arena that opened in 1931. The university opened its current home, the Mullins Center, in 1993. It served as the only construction Calipari witnessed in his time in Amherst.

“There was one new building in my eight years there, the Mullins Center,” Calipari said on Thursday at the Hall of Fame press conference. “Not a classroom building, not a dorm, nada. The Mullins Center. And it was a dogfight to get that thing built.

“Derek [Kellogg] just got a practice facility. I was in the cage with squirrels and birds when I was there. The lights would hum so loud you couldn’t hear the game.”

UMass will retire a jersey for Calipari during this upcoming season, which is the 20th anniversary of the Minutemen reaching the Final Four.

Three-star 2016 point guard cuts list to four

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Alani Moore II, a Class of 2016 point guard who played well this summer for the DC Premier program, announced Saturday that he’s trimmed his list down to four schools. And in the case of three of those remaining programs, adding a point guard is a clear objective in their current recruiting cycles.

Making Moore’s list are UMass, Temple, Seton Hall and Georgia Tech, with the first three currently in a position where they need a point guard for the future.

UMass adds freshman Luwane Pipkins to the program, but with Trey Davis and Jabarie Hinds both being seniors the Minutemen are in need of an addition at the position. As for Temple, not only are the Owls somewhat shorthanded at the point (Devin Coleman and Josh Brown are among the possibilities but neither is a true point) but they’ll also lose two seniors from their backcourt rotation after the 2015-16 season in Coleman and Quenton DeCosey.

Seton Hall added Kansas State transfer Jevon Thomas to the program this spring, but with him on the sidelines the Pirates will have to find another option (Khadeen Carrington? Isaiah Whitehead?) at that position this coming season. Of the four schools on Moore’s list Georgia Tech has the most options at the point in the future, with Corey Heyward being a redshirt junior and both Josh Heath and Travis Jorgensen being redshirt sophomores.