New UMass coach Matt McCall said he knew when he was hired that there was a good possibility players would transfer, so he said he wasn’t fazed by the five players who have already departed.
“Anytime there’s change and there’s turnover. 99.9 percent of the time there isn’t 100 percent retention. We, as a staff, understood that going into this that there would possibly be some guys that didn’t feel like it was the best fit,” McCall said. “That’s O.K. The biggest thing is getting a group of guys that really want to be here representing the name across the front of the jersey. That’s the biggest thing when you’re trying to win a championship.”
He bore no ill well to the players who decided not to stay. Juniors Seth Berger, Zach Lewis and Zach Coleman and freshmen DeJon Jarreau and Brison Gresham have all announced their intentions to finish their careers elsewhere. Berger has already committed to Oregon State, while Lewis is headed to Iona. The other three haven’t selected new programs yet.
“The guys that left, we wish them nothing but the best. We appreciate their cooperation with everything through the transition because it’s not easy,” McCall said. “We hope they end up in places that really benefit them and make them better.”
He’s been balancing recruiting with getting to know his current roster.
“We’re trying to establish a foundation with the guys that are coming back,” he said. “The guys we’re recruiting we’re bringing in to play with the guys that are coming back. We’re excited about that.”
At present junior C.J. Anderson, sophomores Rashaan Holloway and Malik Hines and freshmen Luwane Pipkins, Chris Baldwin, Ty Flowers and Unique McLean are returning. Junior Donte Clark hasn’t ruled out a return if he pulls out of the NBA Draft.
UMass has been linked to graduate transfers (who are eligible immediately), junior college players and unsigned high school seniors as well as traditional transfers (who have to sit out a year) since McCall was hired. He’s not allowed to comment on any unsigned players, but he said he’d been active.
“This next month will be big to solidify some official visit dates and get some more guys on campus and see how they interact with the guys we have coming back,” he said. “We wouldn’t want to bring in anyone who didn’t mesh well with our returnees. They’ve got to be connected on and off the floor. It’s not just about signing guys it’s about signing the right guys.”
STAFF – McCall hasn’t hired a third assistant coach, but he, assistants Peter Gash and Rasheen Davis will be out of the road recruiting when a live period begins Friday. Lucious Jordan, who is expected to named the director of basketball operations, will serve as an assistant coach and recruit until a third coach is chosen.
According to multiple sources Adam Ginsburg will not return as an assistant coach, meaning the staff will be entirely new.