Coach Chris Markwood hopes this latest slate of transfers will continue accelerating improvements UMaine made last season.
In this Dec. 8, 2022, file photo, University of Maine men's basketball head coach Chris Markwood yells out during the game in Orono. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The University of Maine men’s basketball team has announced four incoming transfers for the upcoming season.

Okay Djamgouz, Quion Burns, Anthony “AJ” Lopez and Adam Cisse will all join the Black Bears to help head coach Chris Markwood continue to raise the program in his second season.

Last year’s team finished with a record of 13-17, its best since the 2010-11 season.

Markwood inherited a team that went 6-23 in the 2021-22 season and was one of the worst teams in the country. He brought in transfers Kellen Tynes and Gedi Juozapaitis and increased the program’s win total by seven for its best record since 2010-11. Tynes was named the America East Defensive Player of the Year and led the nation in steals, while Juozapaitis was one of the top shooters in the conference. Markwood hopes this year’s transfers can continue accelerating the team’s improvement.

Markwood recruited Djamgouz and Lopez while coaching at Northeastern, so he was familiar with them heading into the recruiting process. Lopez and Cisse both played on the same AAU team as well, which could give them early chemistry heading into summer practices.

Djamgouz is graduating from Drake University, but will have two years of eligibility left. What’s most exciting about Djamgouz is his shooting ability from deep. Over the past two seasons, Djamgous has shot 48 percent and 52 percent from 3-point range, respectively.

“Skill-wise he’s a big guard that can really shoot the basketball,” Markwood said. “That was a major need for us in this recruiting class. We didn’t have enough of it last year, and then you’re losing Gedi [Juozapaitis]. With all these [recruits] they can do that, but he does it at a really elite level.”

Drake had single-digit wins from 2014-17 and then jumped to 17 wins in 2018 before winning more than 20 games during each of the past five seasons. Markwood sees similarities in UMaine’s rise as a program, as well.

“Their program is what we’re aspiring to do,” Markwood said. “When he got there they weren’t very good and now they’re almost a top-25 team.”

Burns is a 6-foot-7 wing from Long Island University who averaged 7.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 22 minutes per game, only playing in 19 last year.

He came off the bench, but Burns shows a lot of potential to Markwood.

“We love his upside, long, innate ability to score and can shoot,” Markwood said. “He can play up and down the lineup, different spots and another guy that I think brings some punch to the offensive end and versatility.”

Burns, who is from White Plains, New York, attended Lee Academy in Lee, Maine, for his postgraduate season three years ago, so he’s familiar with the state. He will have two more years of eligibility remaining.

Lopez was recruited heavily by Markwood at Northeastern and also by UMaine assistant coach Jordon Bronner, who was a coach with the University of New Hampshire until this past season.

Lopez chose to play at UNH, but has now transferred to the Black Bears as a redshirt sophomore next year.

“He has a very long wingspan, is athletic and just has a knack to score the ball,” Markwood said. “I think he’s a little under the radar, [UNH] had a veteran-dominant team but I think people are going to see him blossom. He can score and play up and down the lineup.”

Lopez is listed as a 6-foot-5 guard, and Markwood thinks that his playstyle will be a “change of pace for Maine eyes.”

Finally, there’s Cisse, a 6-foot-10 center who moves well for his size and had a strong senior year off the bench at Manhattan.

Cisse started nine games and appeared in 25 for Manhattan and averaged 3.5 points and four rebounds a game in 15.7 minutes. He also tallied 15 blocks and 22 steals. His strengths as a big can hopefully improve weaknesses the Black Bears showed last year, like rebounding and rim protection.

“He’s physical, has a high motor, knows the game and can talk the game from the center spot,” Markwood said of Cisse. “He will give us some balance from the post. He’s more of a physical big, but he is skilled in his own way, but he’s more of a rim runner and rim protector type big. I think he brings a physical presence and a vocal kind of leader at that spot that you need to win. He will be a good balance with Kristians Feierbergs and some younger bigs we have.”

Avatar photo

Adam Robinson

Adam Robinson is a native of Auburn, Maine, and graduate of Husson University and Edward Little High School. He enjoys sports, going on runs and video games.