One of the biggest issues facing the NCAA today is the issue of player rights. While most of this is based on compensation, a large part deals with the NCAA's inconsistency when dealing with players who transfer from one program to another, particularly in basketball.
The UMass Minutemen have managed to stay above that fray, instead taking on players looking for a better place rather then better circumstances. Chaz Williams is Derek Kellogg's poster child for this as the former Hofstra guard has developed into one of the finest players in the Atlantic 10 since arriving in Amherst and it looks as though Western Mass.'s favorite son has another ace in the hole in 2013-14.
That player is Derrick Gordon, formerly of Western Kentucky. Gordon, along with junior forward Maxie Esho, are the focus of this week's Roster Preview.
Derrick Gordon, Guard
As mentioned in the introduction, Gordon joins the Minutemen after sitting out a year due to transfer rules. A 6-foot-3 guard with three seasons of eligibility left, Gordon is the only active player on the team with an NCAA Tournament experience (Jabarie Hinds, a transfer from West Virginia, is sitting out this season).
In 2011-12 as a freshman at Western Kentucky, Gordon averaged team highs in points (11.8) and rebounds (6.7) to go with 2.1 assists and 36.7 percent shooting from the field. The decision to leave was mostly due to a coaching change at Western Kentucky, but UMass ended up being the choice due to his relationship with Kellogg and the proximity to his home in New Jersey.
A strong guard, Gordon will serve as a nice complement to Williams in a backcourt that is instantly one of the best in the conference. He should also see time at point guard in some lineups paired with Trey Davis, Demetrius Dyson or Clyde Santee.
Having gone through the trials of leading an NCAA Tournament team already, Gordon instantly comes one of the Minutemen's most important players as they try to break a 16-year tournament drought.
2011-12 Stats (at WKU): 33.3 minutes, 11.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 36.7 percent FG, 26.6 percent 3pt
Maxie Esho, Forward
Where Gordon is new and exciting, Maxie Esho is something of a known commodity. Since redshirting during his freshman year, Esho has put together two seasons of just about 20-minute, 5-point-per-game basketball with an uptick from 3.4 to 5.0 rebounds last season.
Esho was a three-star recruit coming out of Lee Academy in Maine with scouts falling in love with his ability to run the floor and play at or above the rim, but wanting more out of his shooting and ball-handling abilities. Now, three years later, those calls for improvements have not changed.
What has changed, however, are the expectations of Esho by the staff and fans. Where he was projected to be an every-night impact player, he has become a guy who can grab impact rebounds, come up with a big defensive play, and finish fastbreaks with momentum-swinging dunks.
Every team needs a guy like that.
2012-13 Stats: 20.6 minutes, 5.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 43.3 percent FG
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