Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A word or two or more about transfers

Yes, it certainly is transfer season with the predominate percentage being made up of underclassmen, especially freshman, and graduates with a year of eligibility remaining.

Now some say college basketball is in the midst of a transfer crisis as if a disaster is looming and emergency actions are needed. Others lament that it's a sign of the times and paint with way too broad of a brush.

Such as:

Mo Williams"Players that transfer schools because of playing time are developing a cycle in life to leave when things aren't going their way."

So here are a few actual facts at least about D1 movement thus far from Travis Branham"52 of the 399 transfers averaged 10+ PPG. 91 of the 399 transfers averaged less than 1 PPG or did not accumulate stats." 

But critical information about players changing basketball programs remains missing. That is, the actual reason(s) -- not being good enough for the level, playing time disagreements, homesickness, being run off, et al -- why the address changes are taking place. Without such, we're simply succumbing to our pre-existing biases rather than making data-driven conclusions.

A critical factor to keep in mind is we will never know the primary reasons for almost every transfer and therefore aren't in a position to make educated judgments, be it about an individual's move or a mass migration from a program.

Take Carlton Bragg of Kansas who is leaving after two seasons in Lawrence. He did have a couple of run-ins with the law this season and played just under 14 minutes a game. The 'chatter' is the highly-touted recruit made the decision to depart and that there was no push from the Jayhawks. He sports a 3.0 grade point average. So on the surface, this move appears to be one of a young man unhappy with his playing time and role and desiring a fresh start. Maybe he made a mistake in selecting Kansas and needs to rectify that error, maybe not. Maybe he is making a mistake in leaving, maybe not. Feel free to lecture Bragg that it would be better if he stayed and fought through the obstacles holding him back but it's his life and the world isn't ending nor any crisis brewing by his switch.

Then there is this inflammatory departure:

Geoff Calkins writing about the exit of two players from Memphis whose father also came to the program in a package deal: "Two middle fingers as I make my exit," tweeted K.J. Lawson, along with the considerably more formal statement explaining that both he and his brother Dedric Lawson will be transferring to another school.

The tweet was later deleted. The sentiment remains.

Two middle fingers to Tubby Smith and the Memphis Tigers as the Lawsons head out of town. And not to turn pro or anything spin-able like that. Just to play somewhere else..."

So what is this mess all about and which are the actual exit factors?

In a recent article on the exodus of players from Long Beach State with the lede being the team's starting point (Justin Bibbins) graduating in three years (a truly positive achievement) and moving on, Coach Dan Monson offered: "[Noah]    Blackwell was unhappy and wanted to play point guard. Monson added that the order in which players announced their transfers could’ve changed some decisions...."

So are the tea leaves spelling out that Blackwell might have remained a 49er if Bibbins had announced his decision earlier?

The overall point being that besides tracking the college left behind and the bright and shiny new Shangri-la, any lists of transfers also needs to contain the factors behind the departures if it to serve any purpose other than tracking movement. But good luck with that as how many players, teammates, coaches, parents et al wish to divulge such intimacies let alone who should be trusted? What if a coach offers one reason for a departure and the player supplies a different answer?

Rob Dauster gets to provide the last input on the subject.

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