UMass basketball: Minutemen assistant coach Brett Nelson leaving for job at NC State; to be replaced by Matt Figger

Former UMass assistant coach Brett Nelson, shown here while head coach at Holy Cross, is leaving the Minutemen for an assistant coaching position at North Carolina State.

Former UMass assistant coach Brett Nelson, shown here while head coach at Holy Cross, is leaving the Minutemen for an assistant coaching position at North Carolina State. AP FILE

Former Texas Rio Grande Valley head coach Matt Figger, shown here against Texas in 2022, will reportedly join the UMass coaching staff as an assistant under Frank Martin after the departure of Brett Nelson.

Former Texas Rio Grande Valley head coach Matt Figger, shown here against Texas in 2022, will reportedly join the UMass coaching staff as an assistant under Frank Martin after the departure of Brett Nelson. AP FILE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-16-2024 11:38 AM

AMHERST — UMass men’s basketball assistant coach Brett Nelson has jumped ship to North Carolina State to accept another assistant role under Wolfpack head coach Kevin Keatts.

North Carolina State is coming off one of the most impressive Cinderella runs of this century, making it to the Final Four as an 11-seed before falling to national powerhouse No. 1 Purdue 63-50. Nelson, who is the second UMass assistant coach in the last two seasons to leave for a high-major gig, looks to repeat the Wolfpack’s success as he joins their coaching staff following just one season in Amherst.

With the Minutemen, Nelson helped head coach Frank Martin’s squad achieve its first 20-win season since 2014, and its highest finish in the Atlantic 10 since 2008 (four seed).

Martin praised his coaching staff on several occasions throughout the season, and noted the benefits of having so many former head coaches on staff. Martin will be adding another one to replace Nelson, as Matt Figger steps into the role on UMass’ bench.

Figger was the head coach at Austin Peay from 2017-2021 and again at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley from 2021 until his firing at the end of this past season. He posted a 105-116 record as a collegiate head coach.

HOF Showcase to look different for UMass

UMass will no longer be playing against Providence in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase this coming winter.

A domino effect has taken place in the scheduling world of college basketball. Creighton accepted the last invitation as the eighth and final team to play in the Player’s Era NIL event in Las Vegas, which took the Blue Jays out of their original early-season tournament – the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Thus, one spot opened up to take Creighton’s spot, and the Friars accepted when they were invited to fill it. The opportunity is certainly better for Providence to bolster its strength of schedule, as the Battle 4 Atlantis field includes Arizona, Gonzaga and Indiana, among others.

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The Naismith Hall of Fame is currently searching for a fourth team to replace Providence in the showcase at Mohegan Sun. Due to the Friars backing out, they have agreed to play future games at Mohegan Sun, according to CBS Sports. Those games are likely to be against UMass and/or Boston College.