Lewis, Coleman leaving UMass

  • Members of the UMass basketball team wait for the start of a press conference held to welcome incoming coach Matt McCall, Thursday at the Champions Center.

For The Recorder
Friday, March 31, 2017

The day after new UMass coach Matt McCall’s introductory press conference, Zach Lewis and Zach Coleman are both transferring, while Donte Clark is reportedly leaning toward declaring for the NBA draft.

According to multiple sources close to UMass, Clark, who averaged a team-high 12.6 points per game this season, would not sign with an agent preserving his college eligibility. Many underclassmen declare as a way to get feedback from professional teams.

The 6-foot-5 guard hasn’t declared yet. Players have until April 29 to declare and May 24 to withdraw. Barring an improvement in his esteem among NBA scouts, Clark would unlikely be selected if he stayed in the draft.

Lewis and Coleman, who were the only members of the team not to attend Thursday’s press conference, are taking advantage of the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule and will be eligible immediately. Because each has earned a degree with eligibility remaining, they won’t have to sit out a year and can play right away wherever they end up.

Lewis, a guard from Connecticut, played one season for UMass. His departure was reported by New England Recruiting Report. Coleman retweeted Masslive’s Mark Chiarelli’s tweet saying he was leaving.

Lewis played his first two seasons at Canisius, but sat out the 2015-16 season to transfer to UMass. He averaged 8.8 points in 23.0 minutes per game as a junior. Coleman appeared in just 13 games and averaged 0.8 points in 7.5 minutes per game. The 6-foot-7 forward has been hampered by knee and back injuries for much of his career.

Minuteman athletic director Ryan Bamford said Thursday that only Seth Berger, who is also eligible to be a grad transfer, has asked him about exploring other schools. Clark would also be eligible to take advantage of the rule if he chose to.

Only Rashaan Holloway and C.J. Anderson were available for interviews at McCall’s press conference.

The departure of Coleman and Lewis, and possibly Berger and/or Clark, gives McCall the option of adding players to a program that previously didn’t have any available scholarships. If Clark returns, losing Lewis dents UMass’ experience but not its depth as freshman guard Unique McLean redshirted last season.

McCall could add a graduate transfer who could play at UMass right away. He could look at a younger transfer that would sit out, or target a late deciding high school player.