Elfrid Payton Elite featured several gifted prospects this year, and DeJon Jarreau and Brison Gresham were two of the standouts. That duo connected both on and off the court, and they ultimately decided to take their visits together and choose the same school — and UMass won out in the end.
For Jarreau, versatility and control are the keys. The slender guard stands 6-4 and thus is very tall for a point guard, and of course at that height he can play off the ball as well.
Watching him at The Warmup this past spring, he immediately stood out as a gifted playmaker and scorer on the move. He’s speedy in the open floor, utilizes crossovers and spin moves to slice into the lane and uses his long arms to finish over shotblockers.
Jarreau also stands out for what he doesn’t do. He doesn’t force the issue too frequently or hoist many bad shots, and thus his scoring production for EPE — while modest — was efficient.
He averaged eight points per game but knocked down a solid 47 percent from the field, including 42 percent on threes. He attempted just over two long bombs per game, sticking to open shots and focusing on accuracy rather than prolific numbers.
Coaches appreciated his team-first style and obvious jumbo skill set, enabling him to land a spot in our national top 75 as well. Looking ahead, Jarreau will need to become much stronger and address his 61 percent free throw shooting, particularly if he’s going to be the primary ballhandler late in games when the Minutemen are nursing a lead.
In addition to his tangibles, Jarreau is an instinctive player who jumps passing lanes for steals and interferes with post entry passes thanks to his length and timing. As he gains muscle he should become even more valuable on that end of the floor.
As for Gresham, upside is the key word. He’s a fine shotblocker and rebounder who possesses big league athleticism but needs time to refine his game.
Standing a hair under 6-8, Gresham has ample size for power forward and simply needs to expand his offensive arsenal. But consider that, thanks to his ample athleticism, he by far led EPE by swatting just under two shots per game. He also yanked down seven boards per contest.
His scoring numbers actually weren’t bad, given that he’s able to finish naturally above the rim. He tallied eight points per outing on 64 percent shooting, taking advantage of his opportunities as a finisher.
That said, he converted just 10-28 from the free throw line (36 percent), an area he certainly must improve significantly at the next level.
So while Jarreau may be able to step in and play significant minutes as a freshman, Gresham may need a bit more time to muscle up and to smooth out the rough edges. Still, he’ll be an outstanding asset for the program and certainly does project as an eventual starter as well.
The Bottom Line
For UMass, recruiting McDonald’s All-Americans isn’t something the program has done on a regular basis. The Minutemen nevertheless continue to remain competitive in the Atlantic-10, however — including a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2014 — and Jarreau and Gresham could push the program to even loftier heights.