UMass basketball: Matt Cross announces he’s transferring to SMU for final year of eligibility

UMass forward Matt Cross (33) dunks in the first half against CCSU earlier this season at the Mullins Center in Amherst.

UMass forward Matt Cross (33) dunks in the first half against CCSU earlier this season at the Mullins Center in Amherst. STAFF FILE PHOTO

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-20-2024 10:07 AM

AMHERST — The decision every UMass men’s basketball fan has been waiting for was finally made on May 6.

Minutemen star and First Team All-Atlantic 10 forward Matt Cross — the backbone of UMass’ team for the past two seasons — has committed to SMU, he announced on social media.

The Mustangs will be his fourth team in five years, and his third time trying his hand at the ACC as his new program makes the jump starting in the 2024-25 season.

Cross averaged 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game this year, logging 17 games of 15-plus points including a season-high of 31 against Central Connecticut State in an 89-60 win on Nov. 22.

There had been rumors that Cross, a rising fifth-year senior who has one year of eligibility remaining, still might come back to UMass. But a Power 6 school was more appealing. He now joins a list of departing players that quantity-wise may not be as long as last offseason, but a list that certainly has a lot of quality.

Along with Cross, the Minutemen have lost key rotational players in Josh Cohen, Keon Thompson and Robert Davis Jr. as well as several others who didn’t see much playing time.

The beast that is the transfer portal has done nothing but take players to this point from Frank Martin’s club.

As for Cross, a Beverly native, he told the Daily Hampshire Gazette back in early February: “I learned through the process of being in college for a while that the grass isn’t always greener, and I finally felt like I was playing for someone that understood me and gave me a chance.”

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He was referring to Martin, and that being back in his home state was the refresher he needed after to duds at Miami and Louisville. Cross was terrific in a UMass uniform, however, and he’s used it as a stepping stone to — what he hopes will — take his career to a different level at SMU.