Monday afternoon, per Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, UWM men’s basketball standouts Brock Stull, Jeremiah Bell, and Bryce Nze obtained the necessary means to transfer from Milwaukee to play basketball elsewhere. All three of these exceptional athletes are restricted from playing at another Horizon League school in the future.
This comes as a shock to many after a solid 16-17 record this season, and with a Horizon League Tournament semifinal bout under coach Pat Baldwin in his first year at UWM. These three young men were the driving force behind Milwaukee’s respectable 2017-2018 season, all averaging double figures in scoring.
Brock Stull, a product of Boylan Catholic High School in Rockford Illinois, was a two-year starter at UWM. His cold-blooded nature from beyond the arc was unmatched. He led the Panthers to a Horizon League Championship berth during the 2016-2017 season.
Brock has played under three different coaching staffs in his time at Milwaukee, and reportedly is playing a role in his exit from the university’s basketball program. He will be graduating next month from UWM, and will be able to play at another university immediately following graduation, considering he redshirted in his first year at Milwaukee. Stull has aspirations to play at a major university for his Senior season. This is just speculation now, but the University of Minnesota may be a viable option for him, as the original head coach that recruited him at UWM (Rob Jeter), has recently taken an assistant coaching job with the Gophers. Brock Stull will be known as a Panther great, and for his fierce competitive nature from the jump.
Jeremiah Bell, a transfer from Vincennes University, had a breakout year as a starter in 2017-2018, his second season with the Panthers. Bell averaged 13.9 this past season at UWM, a team high. Jeremiah really showed his strengths on the offensive end, being able to shoot confidently anywhere on the court.
I had the chance to speak with him on his time at Milwaukee after the news broke about his decision to transfer.
“It’s been great to be able to experience life here as a player, and I know that I have created great relationships with the people who have given me the chance (to play) at a high level,” said Bell.
When asking about possible schools that have been in contact with him already, Bell said, “Nicholls State, but that’s about it for right now, but it’s only been like six hours since the news hit.”
Nicholls State, a small Division I program in Louisiana, may not necessarily be the high-major school he is looking to play for in the future. It is very early in the recruitment process, as Jeremiah just recently filed to transfer from UWM. Bell will be missed here in Milwaukee, and will be remembered for his unorthodox shooting form with the leg kickback, with the ability to score at will.
Bryce Nze, out of Arrowhead High School, was an integral part of UWM’s success the past two seasons. He really shined this season, almost averaging a double-double. Nze also managed to pass one of the greatest Panthers ever, Matt Tiby, on rebounds in a single season (272), and now holds a school record. The native of Wisconsin will test the market and see if he can take it to the next level at a high-major school. He will unfortunately have to make this coming season his “get better year” as well, as he will have to sit out the entire year, wherever he lands. He was relentless on the boards, and on the low block for the Panthers. His stifling defense and textbook drop-steps will be sorely missed at Milwaukee.
Let’s not forget to add that Sophomore guards August Haas and Jeremy Johnson will also be leaving the program as well, as they announced this information in late March. At some point over the past two basketball seasons, all five of the players mentioned that are set to transfer were starters in this basketball program.
Jeremy Johnson ended up hitting a huge game-winner early in the 2017-2018 season against Elon, and then fell out of the starting lineup after getting hurt. After getting healthy following a minor injury, he mysteriously found himself on the end of the bench for the majority of the season.
Haas was a starter for several games this season, but ended up being a solid spark off of the bench that the Panthers needed game in and game out. Nonetheless, these two players are headed elsewhere as well.
What’s wrong with the water the UWM men’s basketball team has been drinking? Well, I’m not quite sure. It must not be good, considering five impactful players are running for the hills. This situation is very reminiscent of the Spring following the 2015-2016 season after Rob Jeter was relieved of his head coaching duties here at Milwaukee. Star Panthers of that season were Akeem Springs, Jordan Johnson, and Austin Arians. They all found themselves new homes, and thrived greatly at their respective schools. Jordan Johnson followed Coach Jeter down to UNLV, where they both spent the last two seasons. Johnson and Springs eventually became very vocal about their issues with how things were handled with the firing of Coach Jeter, as well as the shutdown of postseason play.
They claimed that part of the problem stemmed from Athletic Director Amanda Braun, as the team wanted to continue to play for Jeter. Springs was especially vocal on Twitter, speaking about trust issues in regard to Braun. Is this also the problem with the current state of Milwaukee men’s basketball? I am not sure, but when five players decide that it’s time to leave the program, there’s an issue somewhere within.
I believe a big issue with the recent exit of several players here at UWM has to do with consistency, as these players have all played under multiple regimes in their time here. Also, I could see why it would be tough to play here when the fan base just isn’t showing up the way they should, especially the student body. Student section numbers were only good when giveaways were involved this season. Yes, it is difficult for some students to get downtown to the arena, but a lot of students just aren’t interested. UWM had a solid season this year. Have some Panther Pride folks. You don’t know what you’re missing.
Coach Pat Baldwin has some catching up to do this spring and summer in the recruiting aspect of the game. Fortunately, recent transfer DeAndre Abram from George Mason will be eligible to play the upcoming 2018-2019 season, as he sat out this past year. Also, the Panthers have recently signed two transfers from junior colleges in Bobby Arthur-Williams (Redlands Community College) and Darius Roy (Connors State College). There are still several spots to fill on Milwaukee’s roster. Coach Baldwin will be holding an open tryout for walk-on spots this coming Monday, April 30th at the Klotsche Center.
I believe the future is still bright for Coach Baldwin and his program, and it will only be more promising with more support from students and other fans. I wish only the best to the aforementioned Panthers that are leaving UWM, and hoping to continue their basketball careers elsewhere. It has been my greatest pleasure covering all five of them this past season at The UWM Post.