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Memphis G Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program

  • Cincinnati’s Jarron Cumberland (34) drives against Memphis’ Keon Clergeot (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, in Cincinnati. AP



@MattVautourDHG
Monday, May 15, 2017

As an assistant coach at Florida, Matt McCall attempted to sell Keon Clergeot on being a Gator. Shortly after McCall was hired at Chattanooga, he tried unsuccessfully to get the 6-foot-1 guard from Auburndale, Florida, to become a Moccasin. But Clergeot, who was an all-state player in high school, chose Memphis.

On Monday, McCall finally got his man. Clergeot, who was part of the mass exodus of transfers out of Tubby Smith’s program, announced his commitment to UMass after considering the Minutemen and Florida Gulf Coast. He’ll sit out the 2017-18 season under NCAA transfer rules and will have three years remaining.

He made his announcement on Twitter after visiting Amherst over the weekend.

“The relationship I have with coach McCall and the coaching staff is unbelievable. Coach McCall has been recruiting me since I was in ninth grade. I was the first guy he offered within and hour of getting the job at Chattanooga,” Clergeot said in a phone interview on Monday. “I didn’t go and I kind of regretted it. Now I’m transferring and he’s there. UMass is the right fit. I have a great relationship with Matt McCall.”

He averaged 3.8 points in 9.9 minutes per game playing behind upperclassmen at Memphis.

“I’ll bring defense. Being intense, physical,” said Clergeot, who will arrive on campus in June. “I play with heart out there. I have that dog in me.”

Clergeot planned to make the most of his year off.

“Just getting stronger and getting better,” he said. “I’ll be getting a lot of shots up.”

Clergeot is the fifth player to commit to UMass since McCall was hired. He joins fellow Floridian Jonathan Laurent, a Rutgers transfer who committed Saturday, Fairfield transfer Curtis Cobb, Maryland transfer Jaylen Brantley and Louisiana high school big man Khalea Turner-Morris.

Turner-Morris and Brantley will be eligible right away, while Clergeot will join Cobb and join Laurent on the sideline.

2017-18 ROSTER QUESTIONS — While the Minutemen continue to stock their 2018-19 roster, adding three transfers who’ll have to sit out, there are still questions for 2017-18.

If nobody else leaves, UMass’ roster looks like this:

C.J. Anderson — The rising senior guard is a key piece because he can play point guard, wing and even the four in a smaller lineup.

Luwane Pipkins — With Zach Lewis gone and Donte Clark’s return questionable, Pipkins could score a lot of points on a roster of players that haven’t been asked to put up big scoring numbers in the past.

If McCall has enough guys to play the style he wants, Pipkins could thrive.

Unique McLean — The ultimate wild card. The rising redshirt freshman is an impressive athlete without a natural position. It’ll be interesting to see how McCall chooses to utilize him.

Rashaan Holloway — It could be an interesting year for him as he’ll enter the season as one of if not the best big men in the Atlantic 10, but he’s likely to see a lot of double and triple teams unless Clark returns or someone else establishes himself as a scorer.

Malik Hines — Whether Hines can play the four along side Holloway will be interesting to monitor. Hines has always been serviceable and has shown flashes of the ability to be more than that at times. UMass, and especially Holloway, would benefit greatly if he had a breakout season.

Jaylen Brantley — After the Antwan Space experience, UMass fans should be aware it’s hard to know what to expect from fifth-year transfers. But the Springfield native who transferred from Maryland certainly fills a need in a Minuteman backcourt that was thinned by transfers.

Khalea Turner-Morris — Getting a three-star big man this late in the process was fortunate for McCall. His role and minutes will likely depend on what Chris Baldwin does and if he can be on the floor together with Holloway or Hines.

Chris Baldwin — The rising sophomore said last week he hadn’t decided for certain if he’d be back. He took big steps at the end of last season. He could potentially be a key player if he comes back.

Donte Clark — It seems unlikely that Clark, who declared for the NBA draft without an agent, will stay in it. Only he knows whether he’s leaning toward staying at UMass or becoming a graduate transfer.

Rayshawn Miller / Jaylen Franklin — If nobody else is added, these two nonscholarship players could potentially see minutes.

Miller hasn’t looked out of place in the rare minutes he’s played outside of garbage time. He’s a smart kid and a decent shooter.

Under former coach Derek Kellogg, Franklin was expected to go from manager to walk-on this season. Franklin was good enough to be a walk-on last year, but UMass’ roster was full.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage