One of the hottest topics of the past few years of college basketball has been transfers. Specifically, since the transfer portal was initially implemented in October 2018. The Anti-Transfer crowd blames the portal for the mass exodus of transfers. Is that true? In a sense, sure. Not completely though all the portal does it put all the players in the portal and it doesn’t matter whether you’re from Hartford or Kentucky you’re in the same category.
Due to the great work by VerbalCommits, I was able to see transfers now let’s examine. In 2015 there were 829 transfers, of those the biggest ones were Semi Ojeleye from Duke to SMU, Nigel Williams-Goss from Washington to Gonzaga, Austin Nichols from Memphis to Virginia, Deonte Burton from Marquette to Iowa State, Connor Frankamp from Kansas to Wichita State, Jonathan Williams from Missouri to Gonzaga, Clayton Custer from Iowa State to Loyola-Chicago, Jordan Caroline from Southern Illinois to Nevada, Damyean Dotson from Oregon to Houston, Eric Paschall from Fordham to Villanova, Brandon Goodwin from UCF to FGCU, Rasheed Sulaimon from Duke to Maryland. Of these Players, they have four Final Four appearances between Paschall, Custer, Williams-Goss, Williams. Semi Ojeleye went on to be a 2nd team All-American and lead the Mustangs to the tournament, where at Duke he was a reserve. Caroline was a key piece on the Nevada team that went to the elite eight before losing to Loyola-Chicago. Dotson during his two seasons as a Houston Cougar, he averaged 13.9 points, and 17.4 points per game in his Years at Houston. Brandon Goodwin had 18 points per game in both seasons at FGCU and was the 2017-18 Atlantic Sun Player of the year. There was a wide range of reasons players transferred some due to playing time and seeking better future opportunities and some just want a change of scenery. All the players I listed and many more I didn’t list made significant contributions to College Hoops as a whole, and that may not have happened had these guys not transferred.
In 2016, Transfers were slightly down to 800. The big-name departures had the likes of Malik Newman, Justin Simon, Marcus Lee, Jakeenan Gant, Caleb, Cody Martin, Charles Matthews, Kendrick Nunn, Paul White, Jevon Bess, Jalen Hudson, Jordan Mathews, Sedrick Barefield, Elijah Thomas, Marvin Clark, and Aubrey Dawkins being very notable ones. Malik Newman played a huge role for a Kansas team that went on to play for a Final Four before falling short to eventual champion, Villanova. The Martin Twins made the Wolfpack a prominent figure in College Basketball, leading them to 2 straight tournaments and a second weekend run. With Charles Matthews was a player who was a very elite defensive figure without Matthews, Michigan Probably doesn’t make a Championship run. Another large group of guys that changed teams for a whole host of different reasons, Jevon Bess who went from MSU to Saint Louis and became an All-A-10 player and currently plays in the G-League. The Martin’s went from a big reserve role to being stars in College Hoops, Marvin Clark went from MSU to St John’s and was a key piece on that team.
In 2017 another upswing in transfers, there were 904 in total. The biggest ones being Dedric Lawson, Zylan Cheatham, Kavell Bigby-Williams, Dejon Jarreau, Malik Fitts, Damien Jefferson, Marial Shayok, Rayjon Tucker, and Justin Bibbins. Far fewer transfers of note, but still have Dedric Lawson, who outstanding at Kansas. Zylan Cheatham, who had the 2nd triple-double in Arizona State history played a significant role and a lot of the team ran through him. Shayok left the Cyclones while having a pretty solid role, then became the star of Iowa State while Virginia won it all, which was a win for both teams, right? Malik Fitts was on a team that made the NCAA Tournament and would’ve been on another tournament team had their been one this season. Still, a good amount of transfers played large roles for their new team.
Now that we’ve seen how big of roles transfers can play, why is it in the players’ best interest they play right away. Well, why should players be penalized? If a coach leaves or gets fired, why should they feel they should have to remain on the same team for a different coach when they could go experience a new team and coach. When a coach recruits an athlete, you often give promises and things of that sort there is nothing wrong with that it’s part of the job. If that’s what the coach does to get the recruit, don’t blame the kid when he leaves later. Even when a coach stays, some think “Stay and earn your role” that’s an archaic approach to take. If a Player thought he would have a bigger role, two seasons in feels like he could make a better future for himself with another team at a lower level. Isn’t all of this about creating a better future for young student-athletes? What does sitting out do help the player? For some, maybe refining their skills but, that’s for a small portion of guys. Most want to show what they can do right away, so why not let them? If someone wants to sit-out, let them if not then let them play. Also, for the player, the ultimate goal is to be a Professional Player, sitting-out slows that clock down if they are not seen playing in live game action for a whole season that won’t help them go pro any faster.
Even some positives on the coaching side, there shouldn’t be so much uncertainty sitting waiting for a waiver. Tom Izzo practiced as if Joey Hauser was able to play this past season but he was denied just before the season started. That makes the continuity between the team a problem at times.
And how are we deciding who gets such “Waivers” for a football example Justin Fields was a 5-Star recruit who was expected to be a backup to Jake Fromm and decided to transfer. He got a waiver to play at Ohio State last season. Luke Ford was born 190 miles from Champaign, Illinois so that is more than the 100 mile-radius role which is considered the max distance to get a waiver for going close to home. Ford went from Georgia to Illinois, cited his grandparents having deteriorating health and wanting his family to see him play in person. Why in the world did Fields get a waiver for, but Ford doesn’t? That’s flat out absurd. Make it that we don’t have a situation like this ever again. It’s a bad look and begs the question if you’re a star, is that what gets you a waiver?