DeJon Jarreau and Brison Gresham, high school teammates, join forces to headline the 2016 UMass recruiting class. (Photo via masslive.com)
This year has not been one of the best for the UMass Minutemen basketball team, who currently have a 9-12 record through February and are 12th in the Atlantic 10 conference. While most of their struggles have come on the defensive side (ranked 300th in the nation in points allowed per game), it is evident that this team simply lacks the high-end talent needed to compete with the rest of the big schools in the country. Since their lone NCAA appearance in 2014 after a 15-year absence, the team has managed to hover around the .500 mark over the last two seasons. So, as you might guess, many Minutemen fans are anxious for some basketball success, and 2016 might make those wishes come true.
Near the end of September 2015, it was announced that two 4-star recruits had signed on to join the Minutemen squad for the 2016 college basketball season. This is incredibly special for a UMass team that has usually struggled to bring in big-name, high school talent for some time now. One of these recruits is shooting guard DeJon Jarreau, who is currently ranked 61st in ESPN’s top 100 recruits for 2016. He will be joined by his former high school teammate, Brison Gresham, whom he played alongside in New Orleans. The chemistry between the two players should work really well in adjusting to the college game for these incoming freshman. The other 4-star recruit joining the team is 6’8”, 230lb power-forward from Springfield Mass, Chris Baldwin. These commitments have put their 2016 recruiting class at 26th in the nation, according to ESPN. To add to this influx of talent, the Minutemen are also expecting their 2015 4-star recruit, point-guard Luwane Pipkins, to contribute to the team after missing all of this year due to academic ineligibility.
All of these players will surely add a boost to the roster at all positions. Jarreau should project to be the prime scoring option next year, who, at 6’5”, possesses good size and versatility, having the ability to play both guard positions. Chris Baldwin will be able to provide strength and athleticism on the low block, as well as being able to step out comfortably for a 12-15 foot jump shot.
It will be very exciting to see how good this UMass team can be next season, as it seems like their roster will be as strong as it’s been in at least 4 years. If these players develop the way we expect them to, we can see this young core propelling the Minutemen up the Atlantic-10 conference standings, as well as a strong push for the NCAA tournament in March.
– J. Yellin