Penn State Maryland Basketball

Trent Buttrick is the newest Minuteman. The 6-foot-8 forward entered the Transfer Portal after playing at Penn State, and will play his final season at UMass.

The University of Massachusetts basketball team has lost some players via the Transfer Portal. Two more, though, are coming in through that same portal.

Big men Michael Steadman and Trent Buttrick will be playing a post-graduate year for coach Matt McCall's Minutemen. They take the roster spots of, but will never replace, forward Tre Mitchell and guard Carl Pierre.

Pierre announced that he will spend his post-graduate season at Rice, a member of Conference USA. Mitchell, one of the bigger prizes among transfers out of the Atlantic 10, has publicly narrowed his potential landing spots to six schools.

Buttrick is a 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward/center who played his previous four seasons at Big Ten school Penn State. The reserve big man started twice, but played in all 25 games for the Nittany Lions. He averaged 3 points and 3 rebounds per game in 13 minutes a contest. He put an exclamation point to his Penn State career on Senior Day. Buttrick started and played 14 minutes in a win over Minnesota, scoring 13 points and pulling down seven rebounds.

"I think what a lot of people don't know about me is I had to play the '5' this past year. The last couple of years at Penn State, I haven't really been able to play how I'm actually viewed," Buttrick said, when reached last month by The Eagle. "I want to be a '4' man who can stretch the floor. I can shoot the ball, be able to make plays off the bounce, push in transition and make plays for other guys."

Buttrick said he heard from 30 Division I teams at every level. The Bloomsburg, Pa., native said that it didn't take long for UMass to jump to the head of his list.

"When I started getting recruited by them, the biggest thing for me was Coach McCall was the first person to reach out to me from UMass," Buttrick said. "Having the head coach call you first ... just stood out for me. I developed a really good relationship with him over the last couple of weeks. I liked their vision for me and what they had to say.

"Obviously, this was the best decision."

And that 30 schools reached out to Buttrick caught the former Nittany Lion by surprise.

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"I was kind of surprised how many calls I was getting within the first week," he said. "I probably got 15 calls within the first four or five days, and then it slowed down after that."

Buttrick is one of seven Penn State players who entered the Transfer Portal after the coaching change in State College, Pa. Chambers was fired during the regular season and interim coach Jim Ferry was not retained. Micah Shrewsbury, who was a candidate for the UMass job that McCall got and was a former assistant with the Boston Celtics, is the new coach at Penn State.

Steadman is 6-10, 231 pounds, and he started in 18 of the 19 games he played for Montana. Steadman sat out the final nine games after entering the Transfer Portal. He made the announcement on Twitter, writing: 

"I’m excited to announce I will be playing my last year and completing my graduate studies at the university of Massachusetts‼️"

Steadman averaged 9.9 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who finished 15-13 in 2020-21. He had a pair of double-double games, scoring 19 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in a 56-54 win over Northern Colorado. He then had a 13-point, 11-board game in a 67-56 win over Northern Arizona.

The addition of the two graduate transfers does beef up the UMass frontcourt, literally and figuratively. It also helps McCall fill out his roster for 2021-22.

The Transfer Portal was a blow to the Minutemen. UMass is, however, getting Preston Santos back. The 6-foot-6 sophomore wing sat out the season for mental health reasons, announced in mid-March that he will return to play in Amherst this fall. 

"I just wanted to say thank you to my family, my coaches and teammates, and my friends for suporting me in this journey," Santos wrote on Instagram. "I also can't wait to get back on the court as well!"

The third newcomer to the program will be 6-foot-9 center Brian Mathews of DePaul Prep in Chicago. 

Howard Herman can be reached at  hherman@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6253. On Twitter: @howardherman

Sportswriter-Columnist

Howard Herman is a sports columnist at The Berkshire Eagle. The dean of full-time sportswriters in Western Mass., he has been with the Eagle since 1988, and is a member of the New England Baseball and Basketball Hall of Fame.