This may go against the grain of the so-called conventional wisdom but transferring from one college to another counts as neither a mortal or venial sin.
Penance is not required.
High schoolers want (maybe need, it could be a DNA thing ;-)) bragging rights. Signing with the most prominent of the collegiate basketball programs available seems like a must. When the media or peers inquire, being able to say a Pac-12 school destination or dropping the name of a prominent coach is seen as bringing a greater aura to the signee.
But in some cases just for a brief period of time.
Let's take a look at the transfers of various northern California prospects over the years, not from the perspective of why (because we aren't necessarily privy to the cause(s) but the initial level choices, the degree of competition first faced.
Yes, this is all hindsight but still an interesting exercise.
* Josh Akognon - Washington State to Cal State Fullerton
Stylistically, WSU was a curious choice with the Cougar offense not a get up and down the floor one but Akognon's tenure in Orange County beginning as a junior and then overseas has proven he would have succeeded in Pullman.
* Collin Chiverton - St. Mary's to Eastern
It's been a circuitous route for Chiverton. His junior season at EW demonstrated he possesses West Coast Conference ability although his shooting percentage and creating for others needs improving. I still think he possessed the greatest potential of all the Archbishop Mitty players on the team that finished second in the state that one year.
* Kevin Galloway - USC to Kentucky to Texas Southern
Galloway's travels are similar to Chiverton's but the former, while passing and rebounding well as college senior, has never become a competent shooter. He played little at USC and just 300 minutes in the Bluegrass State but finally got on the court in the Lone Star State. Galloway played with the Idaho Stampede in the NBA Developmental League in 2011-12 but looks to be a free agent now. Overall, Galloway appears to be an mid-to-low-major talent.
* Drew Gordon - UCLA to New Mexico
His wasn't a change due to talent level and he certainly proved in Westwood that he could match up with anyone in the Pac-12.
* Larry Gurganious - Gonzaga to UC Riverside
The slasher rarely played during his Gonzaga tenure (a back injury also curtailed him for a season) but his one year on the court for Riverside showed rebounding and passing ability although continued difficulty shooting from distance. This despite being a 20+ points per game scorer as a prepster. The Big West was a better choice, either that or a lower level than Gonzaga WCC team.
* Joe Harden - Notre Dame to UC Davis
Harden had the opportunity to go with Notre Dame and that's a mighty lure. Ultimately, it turned out that Big West play was more to his skill level as he was twice named to the all-league squad. Now in Australia, he also had a short stint with the Dakota Wizards of the NBA Development League.
* Orlando Johnson - Loyola Marymount to UC Santa Barbara
I can't remember the factor(s) offered for his transfer (coaching change?) but Johnson ultimately proved he could have succeeded even in the Pac-12. A lot of coaches and fans missed on this one.
* Tim Pierce - Arizona State to San Jose State University
An Arizona State Sun Devil as a freshman, Pierce transferred into San Jose State University as a sophomore and playing the Western Athletic Conference was much more conducive to his talent level.
* Frank Otis - Southern Methodist University to Weber State
Coach Matt Doherty brought Otis to Dallas but being a 6-foot-4 or so power forward proved to be a mismatch in the Conference USA so Otis moved on to Lillard-ville. Hopefully finally healthy now (12 games/seven starts last season), he shot 69% in 2011-12 with 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17 minutes a contest.
* D.J. Seeley - California to Cal State Fullerton
Two years at Cal as a somewhat rotation player has been followed by a strong season in Orange County (selected to the All Big West team) and Player of the Year whisperings for his upcoming senior go-around. He certainly can play at the Pac-12 level now as 31 minutes a game with the Titans helped him display that point.
* Kwame Vaughn - USF to Cal State Fullerton
Vaughn mirrors Seeley although he was twice a double-figures-a-game scorer for the Dons before heading south. Could Vaughn play in the WCC is a query that needs no further investigating. The Pac-12? Yes, but again being a starter and on the court for 30 minutes a game, well, that's harder to answer. Let's cop out with possibly especially if it's a lower level member.
* Julian Welch - UC Davis to Minnesota
There was a stop at Yuba College in between his D-I destinations and in his sole season to date in the Land of 10.000 Lakes, he made 21 starts in 36 games, averaging 9.5 points a conest while leading the Golden Gophers in assists and finishing second in steals. Welch is one of the very few to transfer up and certainly showed he belongs in the Big-10.
* Descensae White - Texas Tech to Santa Clara
Few recall that White played nearly 14 minutes a game and shot 49% as a freshman for Bob Knight but matters fell apart and he transferred after seeing the court in just two early games in his second season in Waco. A troubled year at Santa Clara has now later been followed by him becoming a San Francisco State Gator. His talent level was certainly present to play well in D-I.
It's also important to keep in mind that some of the pre-transfer talent-competition level mismatches took place because the head coaches of the various former teams saw a benefit in having that player on his team. A player can't go too high without a coach being part of the equation.