Sam Breen granted extra year of NCAA eligibility for Minutewomen basketball

The forward averaged 16.9 points per game last year

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Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

By Dan McGee, Assistant Sports Editor

Massachusetts women’s basketball star Sam Breen has been granted an additional year of eligibility after having a waiver approved by the NCAA. Breen, who transferred to UMass from Penn State, had to sit out the Fall 2019 semester due to NCAA transfer rules but still led the Minutewomen in scoring average and rebounding last season.

“It has been quite the college basketball journey for Sam Breen,” head coach Tory Verdi said via press release. “I’ve been so excited to coach Sam from the day she committed to UMass two years ago. We knew what type of player we were getting then and she has grown tremendously as a member of our team. We are excited to see what these next two years hold for Sam, and are grateful for the efforts of our compliance staff, administration and the NCAA throughout the waiver process.”

Breen’s presence in the lineup made a major impact for the Minutewomen. Though she missed the first 11 games of the 2019-20 season, Breen hauled in a team-leading 183 rebounds last season. She also totaled 337 points over 20 games, second on the team to now-graduated sharpshooter Hailey Leidel. Her averages of 16.9 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game led the team in both categories.

“It gives us depth at the forward spot,” Verdi said via conference call. “Sam has showed what she’s capable of on the court. To have someone with her abilities, it’s exciting for us. I think Sam could be the best scoring forward in the A-10 this year and next year. It allows us to have a lot of versatility because there’s so much we can do with her from scoring on the perimeter to scoring outside.”

The 6-foot-1 forward led the Minutewomen to a 12-8 record over her appearances last season. Despite missing the Fall semester, Breen recorded eight double-doubles and earned Atlantic 10 All-Conference Second Team honors. Having her mentorship around will also prove beneficial for the UMass women’s program moving forward.

“The impact will be felt, maybe not right this second but maybe in a year or two down the road,” Verdi said. “We’re going to see our program take another step. We’re always trying to move our program and continue our trajectory. With those in our program right now, I feel like we can continue to do that. [Breen] is so schooled and experienced, she’s going to be able to give the players a lot of confidence as well because she exudes that confidence within herself when she’s on the court.”

Dan McGee can be reached at [email protected] He can be followed on Twitter @TheDanMcGee.