NCAA clears Brison Gresham; UMass freshman big man could play Wednesday

  • Freshman big man Brison Gresham, left, moves the ball against Rashaan Holloway during a UMass practice, Oct. 4 at the Champions Center. The NCAA declared Gresham eligible on Tuesday, according to sources. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Freshman Brison Gresham dunks during a UMass practice, Oct. 4 at the Champions Center. The NCAA declared Gresham eligible on Tuesday, according to sources. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

Published: 11/29/2016 6:12:19 PM

After a week where two of its freshmen broke bones, the UMass men’s basketball team finally got some good news.

UMass announced that the NCAA eligibility center declared freshman big man Brison Gresham eligible on Tuesday.

Neither coach Derek Kellogg nor Gresham is commenting publicly until after Wednesday night’s 7 p.m. game against Wagner at the Mullins Center. Gresham is eligible to make his debut in that game.

Gresham had already been guaranteed to at least be a partial qualifier and therefore had been practicing with the team. Gresham will likely play either power forward or center.

Gresham is a 6-foot-9, 220-pound native of New Orleans. He and fellow freshman DeJon Jarreau, his best friend, planned to attend college together throughout their recruiting process. Both chose UMass together, however, Gresham transferred to Notre Dame Academy in Fitchburg for the second half of the 2015-16 school year in an attempt to improve his chances of being eligible. Attending multiple high schools can slow the NCAA’s eligibility process.

In an interview last month, Kellogg raved about how advanced he was as a freshman.

“Brison has been a pleasant surprise. I knew the kid was good, but he’s done some things in practice where he could be really good,” Kellogg said on Oct. 27. “He’s like Kevin McHale. He never brings it down. He just catches and dunks.”

Kellogg said Gresham was further along defensively than most freshman big men at UMass, and hoped to utilize him on the front of the press.

“He’s as good on the ball in the press as anyone we’ve had here since Maxie (Esho) in his third year and Sean Carter when he was really good,” Kellogg said.

This is the first time under Kellogg that UMass has had an eligibility question go in its favor this late in the season. Rashaan Holloway, Malik Hines and Luwane Pipkins were all forced to sit out as freshmen.

Gresham was ranked as a three-star recruit by ESPN and 247Sports. ESPN summarized his potential as follows:

“Strengths: Gresham is along athletic and mobile power forward. He runs the floor extremely well and is an above the rim finisher. He is an excellent shot blocker on or away from the ball and is a rim level rebounder. He also has good touch and feel in and around the lane.

Weaknesses: Gresham will need to continue to add strength. He will need to add to his game on the low post and facing which will take his game to the next level of production.

Bottom Line: Gresham is a long and active power forward that is still developing but has the athleticism and upside to be a high major prospect.

Matt Vautour can be reached at Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at

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