UMass basketball notebook: Wildens Leveque makes late entry to transfer portal

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 06-15-2023 3:57 PM

The transfer portal snatched up one more Minuteman.

Big man Wildens Leveque will leave the UMass men’s basketball program after just one season and enter the portal as a graduate transfer, the Brockton native confirmed on Twitter. He played three seasons with UMass coach Frank Martin at South Carolina before following him to Amherst before last season.

Leveque becomes the seventh UMass men’s player to enter the portal, joining Noah Fernandes (Rutgers), Dyondre Dominguez (Arkansas State), Tafara Gapare (Georgia Tech), T.J. Weeks Jr. (Rider), RJ Luis (St. John’s) and John Kelly.

“(When) Wildens Leveque told me Monday he was going to be a grad transfer, my initial reaction was upset. Not because of his decision, but because selfishly I won’t coach him any more,” UMass coach Frank Martin wrote on Twitter in a more abbreviated form. “Over the past two days that has turned to joy that he trusted me for the past four years. I’m lucky. You’re the best Big Wil.”

Leveque averaged 5.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 28 games for UMass last season. Knee tendinitis caused him to miss a stretch, and the Minutemen misses his physicality and presence on both ends of the floor. He had surgery after the season and didn’t enter the portal initially when most of his former teammates did.

“I have been BLESSED to be coached by you and learn from you Coach Frank. Valuable lessons WAY beyond basketball that I will cherish and use years from now on,” Leveque tweeted in response to Martin. “Thanks for guiding me on the right path to change my life coach. UMASS I AM FOREVER GRATEFUL AND A PROUD ALUM.”

That opens a late spot on UMass’ roster, which has been filled with seven freshmen and transfers Daniel Hankins-Sanford (South Carolina) and Josh Cohen (Saint Francis). Only five players remain from last season: Rahsool Diggins, Keon Thompson, Gianni Thompson, Jackson Cronin and Matt Cross. 

PAY DAY – Two of those freshmen have already signed name, image and likeness deals with the Massachusetts Collective.

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Robert Davis signed a deal and will host a video series “Kickin it with Robert.”

The Massachusetts Collective also reached an agreement with Jaylen Curry, an ESPN Top 100 recruit.

CONFIRMED – Former Holy Cross head coach Brett Nelson will officially round out Martin’s Year 2 staff at UMass. He led the Crusaders for four seasons.

Martin coached Nelson in AAU when he was a McDonald’s All-American in high school and eventually played at Florida, leading the Gators to a national title in 2000.

“After his playing days, he's gone on to build himself a tremendous resume as a basketball coach with incredible stops at numerous institutions,” Martin said in a release. “He will add tremendous value and knowledge to our staff and to our players.”

Nelson spent five years as a Marquette assistant, including two as the associate head coach. He also worked at Ball State, Drake, Arkansas and Marshall.

“I am extremely grateful and excited for this opportunity to be with Coach Martin and everyone involved with the program,” Nelson said in a release. “UMass has a great basketball history and I look forward to helping build and bring value to continue this tradition.”

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