Welcome to A10 Talk’s Preseason Top 25 Player Countdown for the 2018-19 season. Each day, we’ll be publishing a new article counting down our best 25 players for the coming season, as voted on by our staff of writers. Today, we feature #2 Luwane Pipkins of Massachusetts.
What He’s Done
Hailing from Chicago, Luwane Pipkins had a goal of becoming Michael Jordan, just like most kids in the country who picked up a basketball in his city and around the world. While attaining “Like Mike” status may still be far in the future, he’s already reached his goal in becoming one of the better players in Massachusetts’ basketball history and the A-10 conference overall. Coming into UMass as a 3-star recruit according to 247 Sports, Pipkins displayed a strong capability to score and a knack for defense as a freshman. Scoring 10.2 points per game, Pipkins switched between point guard and shooting guard.
His sophomore season was a rare bright spot for the Minutemen who trudged through a painful 13-20 season and a 5-13 A-10 record. Pipkins took control to show what he could do and keep the Minutemen afloat each night; he had them fighting to the end of some close games. Starting 27 games, he played heavy minutes, all the while contributing 21.1 points per game and earning the A-10 Co-Most Improved Player award and A-10 Second Team All-Conference. Pipkins put on a show every night, breaking the record for most points scored in a game in UMass history dropping 44 points against La Salle. Fans were treated to him scoring 20 or more points in 17 contests and had something to cheer for during a touch chapter.
What He’ll Do
Luckily for the Minutemen, the team enters 2018-19 with a lot more promise and a competitive roster. Pipkins can settle in as the focal point of the offense, yet without logging such heavy minutes and should be able to get his pedestrian assist totals up. His shooting and defensive ability will be highly useful, and he should still remain the team’s best option on the floor. Going into his junior year, look for Pipkins to be one of the leaders on a team that is full of fresh faces with five incoming transfers and a team looking to get out of a three year rut.
Now that UMass has a deeper team this season, Pipkins may see a slight dip in scoring, yet he should keep his three point totals high and still be a crucial part of UMass’ success. Pipkins definitely belongs in the running of the A-10 Player of the Year talks and is has the heart to keep UMass competitive in a conference that finds several teams in the same position.
Pipkins has rolled with the punches during his time in Amherst, and while getting knocked down team-wise, he has thrived in the moment, keeping his team’s morale up during the darkest times. Now is the time for Pipkins to take his individual talents and help bring UMass back to the promise land in the A-10.
Previously: #3 Jordan Goodwin