Mike Strange: College basketball experiencing transfer epidemic

Mike Strange

Anthony Gill, a nice freshman forward, is leaving South Carolina for Virginia.

Virginia has room because KT Harrell is transferring to Auburn.

There's an empty locker at Auburn because center Willy Kouassi cut bait.

I know Jim Calhoun isn't a sympathetic figure, but give him a break. At least three UConn players are leaving. One, center Alex Oriachi, will play for Missouri next winter in Thompson-Boling Arena.

Murphy Holloway is gunning for the Transfer Hall of Fame. He left Ole Miss for South Carolina — then redshirted and transferred back to Ole Miss.

What's going on? There seems to be an epidemic of transferring in college basketball.

If you don't believe me, look up the transfer list on cbssports.com. As of April 10, there were 350 names on it. You'll recognize a bunch of them if you followed SEC hoops last winter.

Tennessee is not immune. Wes Washpun is leaving for Northern Iowa. Renaldo Woolridge will play his final season at Southern Cal. Not to imply that either of those departures is a major blow for the Vols.

"I think a lot of young guys, they want it now,'' said Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin. "Nobody wants to sit on the bench, regardless of talent level.

"We can have five seniors that are returning starters and then you bring in a freshman and he wants to start. He doesn't understand that the guy in front of him is a better basketball player.''

The world we live in is increasingly geared toward instant gratification, not patience. But there are other factors at play.

Any time there is a coaching change, transfers usually ensue. There were 40 coaching changes in Division I, roughly one out of every eight programs.

New South Carolina coach Frank Martin has lost not only Gill but his starting center, Damontre Harris.

Rick Ray, the new guy at Mississippi State, loses a future All-SEC stud with the transfer of freshman star Rodney Hood.

The recruiting process is part of the problem. UT's Martin thinks the NCAA's new early evaluation window in April will help coaches make a better judgment about who fits and who doesn't.

"If you evaluate in July and a guy plays well in one tournament, that's probably the first time the head coach saw him play,'' Martin said.

The proliferation of transfers might be a new development, but seeking greener pastures is as old as Phogg Allen.

Kentucky's 1978 NCAA title wouldn't have happened without Purdue transfer Kyle Macy running the show. If Billy McCaffrey doesn't leave Duke for Vanderbilt, the Commodores don't win the 1993 SEC title.

Would UT have won the 2008 SEC crown without Tyler Smith and J.P. Prince? No way.

All in all, Tennessee has come out ahead on the transfer exchange. Prince, Smith, Andre Patterson and Josh Bone contributed to Bruce Pearl's success.

Martin's first team MVP, Jeronne Maymon, began his career at Marquette.

"There were several more who wanted to be a part of our program, some really good ones,'' Martin said, "but I didn't have any scholarships available.''

The exit ramp has seen plenty of action, what with all the coaching changes UT has experienced in the past 25 years. But I'm hard-pressed to name an ex-Vol who left of his choice and tore it up somewhere else.

At any rate, transfers appear to be a fixture in college basketball as we know it.

They give an alternate meaning to the term one-and-done.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 15

born2ride writes:

We did not anything.

Washpun was not an SEC caliber player.

Swiperboy was a big disappointment.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Interesting. Somewhat. Although many regular students move around too. Even grown up businesses have people to move to different jobs trying to "better" themselves. As early as pre-school some students move to several different schools in one year.
The real problem is that the "loyal" workers seem to be the ones who get screwed. I'm like the article on this one I suppose. I certainly don't have any answers nor do I know for sure it's a problem. Life is an adventure that keeps you "moving". When you finally stop you're either dead or at least exhausted. The people that are moving are at least still alive.lol

johnlg00 writes:

This could be an argument for granting four-year scholarships. Teams wouldn't be as flexible in granting releases and transferring players wouldn't find as many openings at schools they wanted to transfer to. On the other hand, nobody benefits from having disgruntled players feeling bound to the programs they signed with but with no alternative to sticking it out.

I agree with the suggestion that players these days often have an inflated sense of how good they really are and sympathize with the coaches in their difficulty in learning enough about ALL aspects of a player's skills and mentality before feeling forced to offer scholarships to players they don't know that well. And again, it goes the other way too. Players don't always have a realistic sense about the personalities of the coaches who recruit them and of their future teammates. I'm not sure there is a global solution to this problem, but it surely is yet another indication of the turmoil that increasingly surrounds the world of big-time college sports.

HtownVol writes:

I dont like it but is it fair that a coach can leave at any point and coach the next day at his "dream job"?

I dont understand Woolridge though, that kid is totally playing the system. H was a 4 year bench warmer at UT, He played one meaningful game at UT and it will forever be the high point of his life (KU).

Honestly, we all know he does not give a rats rear about the undergrad program at USC, he will live off daddy and always think he is a rapper. That has always been his downfall. He put music ahead of basketball. It was not fair to UT for Woolridge to do that because UT paid his way due to his basketball talent.

I seriously doubt that there is a school that matters that can complain about transfers though. UT would have finished near their predicted standing without the Beast that is Maymon. And losing LilPun will never even cross our minds in a few months. I am confident that Armani Moore has every bit the skill Pun has.

Also, isnt Quinton Chaveous (?) available to play this season? He averaged like 25 points per game his sr season at a Chicago area high school if I remember correct.

The one missing piece to the UT basketball game is a scorer. One who can create his own shot when needed. Once C Martin can find that scorer UT will be playing for the SEC and top 2 pr 3 seed in the dance.

We are very lucky to have landed C Martin, if he is ever able to land the level of recruits needed to play with the big boys than UT will be back on top of the SEC.

GO VOLS

eb502us#225637 writes:

Prediction: If Woolridge gets minutes at USC, he will play well and be a major contributor.

He should have gotten most of the minutes that were wasted on Cam Tatum this season. Come to think of it, the minutes wasted on Tatum the last three seasons.

He couldn't have been any worse and probably much better once a little confidence was gained knowing he would be given more than just a cameo appearance every now and then. Hard to look good in the final minutes of an already decided game.

CoverOrange writes:

What became of Negedu? Did he manage to play any meaningful minutes at New Mexico (or wherever it was he went)?

As for Renaldo, good luck and congrats on going home, but don't expect to make a splash under O'Neil. Renaldo couldn't play offense under Pearl and couldn't play defense under Martin. Can't expect to suddenly produce under O'Neil.

MothershipChip writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Prediction: If Woolridge gets minutes at USC, he will play well and be a major contributor.

He should have gotten most of the minutes that were wasted on Cam Tatum this season. Come to think of it, the minutes wasted on Tatum the last three seasons.

He couldn't have been any worse and probably much better once a little confidence was gained knowing he would be given more than just a cameo appearance every now and then. Hard to look good in the final minutes of an already decided game.

Swiper was too slow to guard people at the 3 which is why Cam had those minutes. Say what you will about his offense, without Cam's defense we would not have won as many games last season.

Ironcity writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

What became of Negedu? Did he manage to play any meaningful minutes at New Mexico (or wherever it was he went)?

As for Renaldo, good luck and congrats on going home, but don't expect to make a splash under O'Neil. Renaldo couldn't play offense under Pearl and couldn't play defense under Martin. Can't expect to suddenly produce under O'Neil.

Negadu's heart ailment resurfaced and they shut it down for good. Tough break for the kid but he is alive and will get a free education.

Ironcity writes:

in response to HtownVol:

I dont like it but is it fair that a coach can leave at any point and coach the next day at his "dream job"?

I dont understand Woolridge though, that kid is totally playing the system. H was a 4 year bench warmer at UT, He played one meaningful game at UT and it will forever be the high point of his life (KU).

Honestly, we all know he does not give a rats rear about the undergrad program at USC, he will live off daddy and always think he is a rapper. That has always been his downfall. He put music ahead of basketball. It was not fair to UT for Woolridge to do that because UT paid his way due to his basketball talent.

I seriously doubt that there is a school that matters that can complain about transfers though. UT would have finished near their predicted standing without the Beast that is Maymon. And losing LilPun will never even cross our minds in a few months. I am confident that Armani Moore has every bit the skill Pun has.

Also, isnt Quinton Chaveous (?) available to play this season? He averaged like 25 points per game his sr season at a Chicago area high school if I remember correct.

The one missing piece to the UT basketball game is a scorer. One who can create his own shot when needed. Once C Martin can find that scorer UT will be playing for the SEC and top 2 pr 3 seed in the dance.

We are very lucky to have landed C Martin, if he is ever able to land the level of recruits needed to play with the big boys than UT will be back on top of the SEC.

GO VOLS

Woolridge did the right thing. He was not going to make it in Martins system and though it wasn't said I would not be surprised if Martin would have not given him another year. We needed the scholly for a guard. Not every player lives up to the rep coming out of high school. In fact most do not. Woolridge never got in trouble and stayed when it may have been in his best interest to transfer the last couple of years. Woolridge was a model student and I wish him nothing but the best.

underthehill writes:

Different system..different team needs..Woolridge has the potential be a very good player for S Cal..hope he does it..

JCJ1986 writes:

in response to HtownVol:

I dont like it but is it fair that a coach can leave at any point and coach the next day at his "dream job"?

I dont understand Woolridge though, that kid is totally playing the system. H was a 4 year bench warmer at UT, He played one meaningful game at UT and it will forever be the high point of his life (KU).

Honestly, we all know he does not give a rats rear about the undergrad program at USC, he will live off daddy and always think he is a rapper. That has always been his downfall. He put music ahead of basketball. It was not fair to UT for Woolridge to do that because UT paid his way due to his basketball talent.

I seriously doubt that there is a school that matters that can complain about transfers though. UT would have finished near their predicted standing without the Beast that is Maymon. And losing LilPun will never even cross our minds in a few months. I am confident that Armani Moore has every bit the skill Pun has.

Also, isnt Quinton Chaveous (?) available to play this season? He averaged like 25 points per game his sr season at a Chicago area high school if I remember correct.

The one missing piece to the UT basketball game is a scorer. One who can create his own shot when needed. Once C Martin can find that scorer UT will be playing for the SEC and top 2 pr 3 seed in the dance.

We are very lucky to have landed C Martin, if he is ever able to land the level of recruits needed to play with the big boys than UT will be back on top of the SEC.

GO VOLS

I agree with the previous poster. Totally senseless and unfair attack on Woolridge. He's never done anything to embarass Tennessee, his teammates, or himself. If anything the only thing he's guilty of is failing to live up to expectations. A young man sees a chance to highlight his skills at a place willing to give him the opportunity and to get bashed like that is uncalled for.

Any by the way he finished the degree he came to UT for. You don't speak for Vols fans, you speak for yourself.

LiveToRide writes:

At least we have a legit piece instead of a link to someone else's work. Thanks for that.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Negadu's heart ailment resurfaced and they shut it down for good. Tough break for the kid but he is alive and will get a free education.

Sad to have your dreams dashed but better to be alive to have them. Sometimes think Negedu would have been the difference between the Elite Eight and the Final Four, maybe even Championship Two. Not a knock on Steve Pearl but Negedu's athleticism and energy were unparalleled.

underthehill writes:

in response to JCJ1986:

I agree with the previous poster. Totally senseless and unfair attack on Woolridge. He's never done anything to embarass Tennessee, his teammates, or himself. If anything the only thing he's guilty of is failing to live up to expectations. A young man sees a chance to highlight his skills at a place willing to give him the opportunity and to get bashed like that is uncalled for.

Any by the way he finished the degree he came to UT for. You don't speak for Vols fans, you speak for yourself.

No reason to be critical of Woolridge..hope he fits at S Cal and has a great season...

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

No reason to be critical of Woolridge..hope he fits at S Cal and has a great season...

I agree. Renaldo will always be one of the great "what-ifs" in UT basketball history, especially if he becomes a contributor at USC. Sorry it didn't work out for him here. He finished his degree, or will soon, and didn't embarrass the program or the school. Good luck to him.

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