*Rotation projection will be average minutes per game over the course of the season.
*Minutes will fluctuate based on injuries, fouls, and matchups.
*I’m not a UMass Basketball coach; I’ve never watched the incoming freshman play in person
*Projections will assume the following:
Noah Fernandes will be granted a transfer waiver and will be eligible immediately.
John Buggs won’t be fully healthy until the 2nd half of the season, will be eased into playing time.
UMass will be pressing the majority if not all of the game, meaning shorter intervals on the court and more players in the rotation.
Tre Mitchell (C), 33 MIN
Mitchell averaged a tick under 31 minutes last season, with Djery Baptiste logging the remainder of the minutes at the center position. Without Baptiste over the last five games of the season, Mitchell’s minutes jumped to 34.8 while averaging 22 points and 12.4 rebounds. Expect to see Mitchell and fellow big man Mark Gasperini paired throughout the season, more often than we saw Mitchell and Baptiste on the court last season.
Carl Pierre (SG), 25 MIN
SG- 6 MIN
SF- 19 MIN
Carl has been one of UMass’ most consistent players over the last three seasons. While there were times where there was a lid on the basket, he still averaged over 12 points in over 33 minutes per game. While Pierre’s minutes will likely decrease due to improved talent around him, I expect his offensive efficiency will improve as he gets less focus from the defense. It seemed like there were times where the opponent only had to focus on Mitchell and Pierre, and this year will be different.
T.J. Weeks (SG), 24 MIN
Weeks’ hot start to the season has fans excited for this upcoming year. His projected minutes number could jump dramatically, especially when TJ gets hot from beyond the arc.
Javohn Garcia (PG), 23 MIN
PG- 15 MIN
SG- 8 MIN
Garcia is a total wildcard for the UMass squad. People around the program are very high on him and expect him to have a significant impact from the get-go. I could see UMass easing him in, especially if Noah Fernandes and Kolton Mitchell are good to go for the start of the season. I think he will overtake both of them in playing time as conference play begins.
Dibaji Walker (PF), 21 MIN
PF- 19 MIN
SF- 2 MIN
Dibaji will be the perfect complement to Tre Mitchell in the starting lineup with the opportunity to play a full out-of-conference slate instead of being thrown into the fire in A-10 play. When Walker was given the opportunity to get the ball where he likes, he had special bursts that could carry the UMass team for 6-8 minutes. While averaging over 6 points in just under 18 minutes per game, I project Walker averages 10-12 points per game with increased minutes and a full season.
Preston Santos (SF), 21 MIN
SF- 19 MIN
PF- 2 MIN
Preston emerged as one of UMass’s best players near the end of conference play. He’s rock solid in all aspects of his game. While he’s not going to be a guy that can be a shot creator towards the end of the shot clock, his hustle has the potential to turn poor possession into points or defense into offense. We could easily see him swapped with Walker at PF with the starters when the team wants to go small or have better press personnel.
Noah Fernandes (PG), 17 MIN
Fernandes’ experience at Wichita State last season, combined with his time at Woodstock Academy with coach Bergeron and numerous UMass players, seems to put him in an ideal situation to have an immediate impact. UMass will look for him to facilitate the offense, distribute the ball to the talented shot creators on the roster, and play pesky defense in a conference full of talented guards.
Mark Gasperini (C), 12 MIN
C- 7 MIN
PF- 5 MIN
Baptiste finished last season averaging 10.6 minutes per game in a similar role as Gasperini. However, Gasperini has a more polished offensive game than Baptiste and should have a bigger role. Gasperini could be particularly valuable in games against St. Louis, Rutgers, and George Mason.
Dyondre Dominguez (PF), 8 MIN
Dominguez may need to bulk up to compete at the power forward position in the A-10. He’s a tremendously hard worker who appears to be trying to bulk up this summer and would benefit from UMass Dining the most of any player on the team. The ability to space the floor and stroke it from behind the arc would put UMass’ three lethal shooters on the court if he’s paired with Carl Pierre and TJ Weeks.
Kolton Mitchell (PG), 8 MIN
Kolton's projection was difficult since he averaged 12.8 minutes per game last season. I expect his performance to improve since he has two healthy hands and he has been working on his jump shot this season, but with the additions of Garcia and Fernandes, there is increased talent and competition at the position this year and only a finite amount of minutes to go around.
Ronnie DeGray (PF), 6 MIN
It will be interesting to see exactly where DeGray fits into Coach McCall’s rotation. Ronnie could pick up some minutes at the 3 if UMass decides to go big. DeGray is just one injury or a few amazing practices away from his minutes jumping to the 12-15 range. It's very unknown with these incoming freshmen.
*John Buggs (PG), 2 MIN
Buggs will continue to be the energizer bunny on the bench for UMass as he continues to rehab his knee following ACL surgery in November. It will hard to predict Buggs’ impact on the court since it will be difficult for him to be fully healthy by conference play.
*For now, we'll list him as a reserve, only getting minutes when McCall empties the bench in the second half.
*Cairo McCory (SG), Redshirt
This was a very difficult decision to make. While the press is meant to get 11-12 players steady minutes per game, I think it makes the most sense to redshirt McCrory this season with all the talent that UMass has on the wing. This plan could be EASILY be blown up by injuries, personal reasons, or suspensions, but taking the year to refine his skills makes a lot of sense if he can't crack the rotation.