UMass basketball: Minutemen nab another transfer in Arizona State forward Akil Watson

Arizona State's Akil Watson (23), Brycen Long (3), Malachi Davis (7), Braelon Green (2) and others walk off the court after a game against TCU last season. Watson announced Wednesday he was transferring to UMass.

Arizona State's Akil Watson (23), Brycen Long (3), Malachi Davis (7), Braelon Green (2) and others walk off the court after a game against TCU last season. Watson announced Wednesday he was transferring to UMass. AP FILE

Mississippi forward Moussa Cisse (33) and Bryant forward Daniel Rivera (5) reach for a rebound last season in Oxford, Miss. Rivera announced on Tuesday he was transferring to UMass.

Mississippi forward Moussa Cisse (33) and Bryant forward Daniel Rivera (5) reach for a rebound last season in Oxford, Miss. Rivera announced on Tuesday he was transferring to UMass. AP FILE

By CONNOR PIGNATELLO

Staff Writer

Published: 05-08-2024 4:22 PM

Just 24 hours ago, the UMass men’s basketball team hadn’t brought in a single transfer to replace the players who departed the program in the offseason. Now, after Wednesday’s signing of forward Akil Watson from Arizona State, the Minutemen have added two in a one-day span.

UMass signed G/F Daniel Rivera, a Bryant transfer, on Tuesday.

Watson comes to Amherst with three remaining years of eligibility and announced the move on his Instagram. The 6-foot-9, 205-pounder played sparingly in 18 games as a freshman at Arizona State. He averaged 5.9 minutes, 1.7 points, 0.7 rebounds and 0.1 assists for a Sun Devil squad that finished ninth in the Pac-12.

Originally from New Jersey, Watson played high school basketball at Roselle Catholic, which finished as the top team in the state and won the NJSIAA Non-Public B championship during his senior season. He was a consensus four-star recruit.

Watson and Rivera are versatile wings who can play both forward spots for the Minutemen. Though undersized at 6-foot-6, Rivera finished in the top five of the America East in both rebounds and blocks last year. 

UMass has now dipped into both ends of the spectrum for its two portal additions. Rivera received lots of playing time from a smaller school and is presumably looking to prove he can succeed in a more competitive conference. Watson comes from a larger school and is presumably looking for increased playing time.

Eight Minutemen entered the portal after it opened on March 18. First-Team Atlantic 10 forwards Matt Cross (SMU) and Josh Cohen (USC) found new homes, and key players Keon Thompson (Stephen F. Austin) and Robert Davis Jr. (Old Dominion) also transferred. Reserve center Mathok Majok moved to Oral Roberts and reserve forward Tyler Mason has entered the portal, though he has not joined a new team yet. Sawyer Mayhugh (Queens University of Charlotte) and Gianni Thompson also entered the portal, though neither played for the Minutemen last season.

UMass has two remaining scholarships remaining, and will most likely use at least one on a guard after the departures of Thompson and Davis Jr.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

‘Mental health shouldn’t be shamed’: Shelburne family advises to heed lost life as warning
Warmth, hospitality drive new Turners Falls brunch restaurant
Blessed Trinity poised to open Franklin County’s only Catholic preschool
Greenfield restaurant to be featured on America’s Best Restaurants
Real Estate Transactions: June 21, 2024
PHOTOS: Green River Festival gets underway after rain delay