University of Maine at Farmington men’s basketball coach Sam Leal reacts to a call during the first half of a Jan. 17 game against Bates College in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

FARMINGTON — He isn’t calling it a rebuild, but there’s work to be done for Sam Leal’s University of Maine at Farmington’s men’s basketball program following the 2022-23 season.

The Beavers, consistently among the North Atlantic Conference’s top programs over the past several seasons, had another strong campaign this year. Leal, though, knows the make-up of next season’s roster will be much different with all five starters and three bench players graduating this weekend.

“I never look at it as we’re going to be rebuilding because we expect to compete in every game, but we’re going to be a younger team,” said Leal, UMF’s third-year head coach. “We’re going to be really counting on some of those guys to step in and make a difference for us.”

Among those players are four central Maine commits: Jason Reynolds of Winslow; Dan Parent of Messalonskee; Brayden St. Pierre of Maranacook; and Mason Desjardins of Forest Hills. Brock Flagg of Brewer will also be playing at UMF, giving the Beavers a solid freshman class as they look to maintain a foothold in the NAC.

Leaving UMF is Terion Moss, the No. 3 scorer in program history at 1,813 points. The 2018 Mr. Maine Basketball winner out of Portland High School led the NAC in scoring in 2019-20, 2021-22 and 2022-23. He was Maine Men’s Basketball Coaches and Writers Association Player of the Year the past two seasons.

Down low, UMF graduates 6-foot-9 center Jack Kane (14.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game) and forward Kyle Donlin (12.6 points and 6.1 rebounds). The Beavers must replace other starters at wing (Drew Storey) and guard (Silas Mohlar) as well as sixth man Nathan Poulin (9 points per game).


“It’s a great group, one I’m going to miss a lot,” Leal said of his seniors, who guided the Beavers to a 13-1 conference record and 19-8 overall mark this season. “They made a really great impact here at UMF, and I’m really proud of what they’ve done. There’s some big shoes to fill.”

It’s a new era, then, one in which the team’s incoming players know they’ll play a key role right away. That notion isn’t one from which they’re shying away — in fact, it’s one that led to an opportunity that, at least in Reynolds’ mind, was a key factor in his decision to join the UMF program.

Winslow’s Jason Reynolds (40) drives to the basket against Maine Central Institute during a Dec. 13, 2022 boys basketball game in Winslow. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I felt like it was a place I could get playing time out of the gate,” Reynolds said. “Obviously, I know I have to earn everything I get from here on out, but the fact that they’re graduating eight seniors is something that opens up a lot of holes on the team. It’s a great opportunity.”

Reynolds, a forward, will look to aid the Beavers in the post after a dominant season in which he led the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference in points (28.8) and rebounds (15.5) per game. He’s also an efficient outside shooter, averaging three 3-pointers per game in the regular season.

St. Pierre (18.8 points per game) and Parent (top 20 in the conference in 3-pointers made) were also top shooters in the KVAC, and Desjardins used an elite jumper to routinely put up 30-plus-point efforts at Forest Hills. At Brewer, Flagg excelled in every facet of the game to help the Witches to their first-ever Gold Ball.

“You never want your guys to all be the same, so adding a good mix of talent that you can put in different places to be successful is always your goal,” Leal said. “I take a good hard look at that when I recruit, and I think this is a group of guys who fit that mold and are really going to build chemistry.”


There’s already on-court familiarity amongst the four players joining UMF from the KVAC. Parent’s Messalonskee team and Flagg’s Brewer squad played twice in the regular season this year, and Reynolds’ Black Raiders and St. Pierre’s Black Bears faced one another in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 regular season finales.

They’ve gotten to know one another off the court, too. Reynolds and Desjardins have spoken to discuss their majors with both planning to study actuarial science. Reynolds, Parent and St. Pierre all met up with one another to attend a Boston Celtics game last month.

“We’ve been able to get in touch with each other, and we’ve also played pickup together a few times, so I’m really liking the chemistry,” Parent said. “Whether it’s in basketball or not in basketball, we’re getting to know each other really well. I think we’re a good fit for each other.”

UMF has now gone seven years without a losing season, and despite the personnel losses, the team isn’t lowering expectations. Leal expects his Beavers to compete in the NAC once again, and his incoming players are already counting down the days until they can make that happen.

“We know that there’s going to be a lot expected of us right away, but we’re five hard-working guys, and ready to step right in and do that,” Reynolds said. “That first time on campus and that first time together at practice, I just can’t wait for it.”

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