Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

RJ Luis enters the transfer portal after agreeing to NIL deal

Frank Martin has a word about the portal
Dylan Nguyen / Daily Collegian

Freshman guard RJ Luis entered the transfer portal at roughly 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday. He’s the fifth Massachusetts men’s basketball player to do so this offseason.

Luis was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team after averaging 11.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting 45.5 percent from the field. He took a considerable jump in consistency and production during conference play and was primed to become a cornerstone for the Minutemen heading into year two.

On March 14, The Massachusetts Collective, a donor-driven NIL collective for UMass sports, announced they had reached a deal with Luis.

According to Patrick MacWilliams, Director of the Massachusetts Collective, Luis received $1,000 from the Collective to “enter into a letter of intent” on March 13, and had until April 1 to execute the deal, worth $100,000 over two years.

Details were negotiated quickly, but everything suddenly stalled on Luis’ side after signing the letter of intent, per MacWilliams.

“At first [Luis’ response] was very positive,” MacWilliams said. “And then he just went kind of radio silent after… He never executed the deal to [April 1] and that’s after quite a bit of outreach from us and communication from us to them, which wasn’t reciprocated at all.”

“[There was no response] for about 10 days. We did everything we could, email, call, text, and it was just, there was no [response]. This is a deal we wanted to get done.”

He added that Luis never followed up, and never communicated he was entering the transfer portal, nor did he try to negotiate a better deal.

Luis did not respond to the Daily Collegian’s request for comment.

The 6-foot-7-inch guard joins Noah Fernandes, T.J. Weeks, Dyondre Dominguez and Tafara Gapare in the portal. Along with graduates Isaac Kante and Brandon Martin, those seven departures account for 61.6 percent of UMass’ total minutes last season.

Less than an hour before Luis joined the portal, Frank Martin addressed the current state of the transfer portal in his first press conference since the end of the season.

“I love the guys we signed in the fall, I still believe in freshmen,” Martin said. “But in the spring, you have to be prepared to just play the replacement game.”

Martin says coaches used to know who would stay and who would leave as the season unfolds. Coaches often agreed to part ways with unhappy players at the end of the year, so they had an idea of what the team would look like next season heading into March. “Now we got no idea because no one tells us because there’s all kinds of stuff going on behind closed doors.”

Martin continued, “and like I say, even the guys that are happy and successful transfer right now. It has nothing to do with anything other than they’re being convinced by other people that there’s a better deal out there. And that is so disappointing, because as adults, we should know better, that there’s usually not a better deal out there.”

The entire process has since changed, as NIL, immediate eligibility and the transfer portal brought uncertainty.

“Now it’s a guessing game,” Martin said. “We get out of bed every day we might get a phone call, say, ‘Hey, I’ve been talking to my people’ — I don’t even know who ‘my people’ are anymore — ‘and I think I’m going to explore my options.’ We’re being held hostage.

“There are coaches out there … [who] call me asking me for advice that players come in and say, ‘Hey, the best NIL deal I got on this campus is, whatever the number is, I’m going to put my name [in the portal] to see what better deals for me out there.’ Are you kidding me? Like really? It has nothing to do with unhappiness or lack of success, it’s just that we’ve created that moment. So as coaches it’s hard to predict our rosters.”

However, for Martin as the leader of this UMass team, it’s not personal, as he said, “I’m too old to get my feelings hurt anymore. If I’m not sexy enough for somebody, let them find who’s sexy. If UMass isn’t good enough for them, let them find who’s good enough for them.”

Even when the season was still underway Martin was often on the recruiting trail. Now with the season officially over, recruiting consumes his days and energy. During media availability Martin constantly received texts and checked his phone, something he doesn’t usually do. The tension and alertness were visibly palpable.

After signing four freshmen, Martin looks to fill out the three remaining scholarship spots with players who lead and communicate.

“The four guys we signed them the spring, all four of them, you walk into the gym, you don’t know who they are because they dunk, you know who they are because you hear their voice.”

As Martin emphasized, for those players and whoever he gets from the transfer portal it will be vital that they buy into the culture he’s working towards, with truth and transparency at the center of it.

“I’ve got a saying that I use with the players a lot, ‘the season reveals the truth.’ The offseason is phony. You find out the truth in the season. Players really find out about each other, players find out about me, I find out about players. Because now you’re together six days a week and you’re together through adversity, good times, bad times.”

Pedro Gray Soares can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @P_GraySoares.

View Comments (2)
More to Discover

Comments (2)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • M

    Mark "Sandore"Apr 11, 2023 at 9:05 am

    At the very minimum, a player should be required to tell the coach he’s exploring the portal. Loyalty is still a thing, even in this muddled up, mixed up fake world that we live in. You know the Nike / Bud Light sell-out/unprincipled world … So Frank’s crime is being a really good coach and communicator and his reward is they leave to find greener grass. They’re young and stupid and they’ll find it doesn’t exist. It’s either the same vibrant green or it’s less vibrant. Frank said “the season is the truth”. The rest is a video game.

  • P

    PeterApr 6, 2023 at 4:35 am

    Frank is going to be a happier coach today on April 6th, because they will have a new player from the transfer portal committing to the Umass basketball program this afternoon!!!