NCAA Considering Change in Transfer Rules… Again

Posted by Chris Johnson on January 3rd, 2014

One of the topics college basketball people frequently debate and nitpick is transfer culture. They get into other macro issues from time to time, like changes to how the game is officiated and amateurism, but transfer-related issues – a certain player’s waiver getting denied by the NCAA, for instance, or an inconsistent application of transfer rules, or the vast increase in transfers in recent years, or coaches deciding to block or limit where a player can transfer, or something else – seem to spark discussion and controversy on a national level just as (or more) often than anything else. A new transfer-related development has, to no one’s surprise, created a bit of a stir among college hoops folks.

Josh Smith Represents a Transfer Ruling That Didn't Make Much Sense (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Josh Smith Represents a Transfer Ruling That Didn’t Make Much Sense (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The NCAA Division I Leadership Council, which was at one point considering a loosening of the restrictions that apply to transfers ineligible for the one-time transfer exception (football, basketball, baseball and men’s ice hockey players), is discussing the notion of making all transfers sit out a season regardless of circumstance. Student-athletes would be granted an extra year to their “five-year” eligibility clock if they transfer after using their redshirt year. Student-athletes who have not already redshirted would not be granted an extra year. This would essentially eliminate the waiver process you read about so often – the one that initially denied Rutgers transfer Kerwin Okoro immediate eligibility after he moved closer to his New York home following the death of two family members, but allowed UCLA transfer Josh Smith to play right away, just because.

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Joseph Young Makes Oregon the Top Pac-12 Threat to Arizona

Posted by Chris Johnson (@chrisdjohnsonn) on October 28th, 2013

This is not the first time Dana Altman, Oregon’s fourth-year head coach, has used a one-year transfer to improve the Ducks’ roster. It happened in 2011-12, when guard Devoe Joseph and forward Olu Ashaolu, formerly of Minnesota and Louisiana Tech, respectively, combined to average 27 points and nine rebounds to help lead the Ducks to a 24-10 record. It happened last season, too, when former Rice big man Arsalan Kazemi gave Oregon a tough frontcourt complement to its deep backcourt while leading the nation in defensive rebounding percentage (29.0%). Using one-year transfers on a yearly basis might not seem like a viable long-term strategy, but it doesn’t have to be. At some point, Altman ostensibly hopes, Oregon will have won enough games and wooed enough elite high school basketball players with its glimmering facilities and Nike-sponsored “Tall Firs” court, that it won’t need to tap the transfer market to repopulate its roster with top-end talent. It can just recruit those players straight out of high school, because Oregon will be a destination program, because prospects will value the campus in Eugene as harboring one of the top programs in the country. Altman is pushing Oregon in that direction, but the Ducks aren’t there yet. So in the meantime, the former Creighton coach will continue to welcome one-year transfers with open arms.

The addition of Young makes Oregon one of the top contenders in the Pac 12 (AP).

The addition of Young makes Oregon one of the top contenders in the Pac 12 (AP).

The latest additions are former UNLV (and UCLA) forward and Portland native Mike Moser, former Detroit guard Jason Calliste and former Houston guard Joseph Young. All three should play a big role in helping Oregon push Arizona at the top of the Pac-12 this season, and two of them, Calliste and Moser, knew they’d be able to play for the Ducks right away this season thanks to the NCAA’s graduate transfer clause. Young was a different story; he needed the NCAA to grant a hardship waiver – based on the claim that his father, Michael Young, a member of Houston’s great Phi Slama Jama teams from the early-1980s, was reassigned from his position as director of basketball operations with the Cougars, a decision that prompted his departure from the program. Joseph argued that his father’s exit was a “hardship” sufficient to forgo the one-year holdover penalty most undergraduate transfers face – in order to play for the Ducks this season. On Friday, two days after the governing body settled one of the most baffling transfer waiver cases in recent memory, the NCAA declared Young eligible for the upcoming season. In 32 games for Houston last year, Young averaged 18.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 42 percent from three, 87.5 percent from the free throw line, and posting a 124.1 offensive rating, which ranked one spot outside the top-25 such marks in the country. He joins what was – already without Young – one of the best backcourts in the country, as point guard Dominic Artis, wing Damyeon Dotson and Calliste form a deep and athletic group. Young and Calliste’s additions also address one of the Ducks’ main flaws from last season: three-point shooting. Oregon shot just 33.3 percent from deep, a number Altman’s two backcourt transfers – and possibly Moser, if he can shoot more like he did two years ago (33.1 percent) than last season (26.7) – should improve.

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Josh Smith’s Clearance a Game-Changer On and Off the Court

Posted by Bennet Hayes on October 26th, 2013

When news broke Wednesday of Josh Smith’s accepted waiver and immediate eligibility for Georgetown, the bulk of the media reaction constituted pure shock. After all, without any known medical issues or hardship concerns facilitating the transfer, there was no indication that Smith would recoup two full seasons of eligibility after playing in six games as a junior at UCLA. The decision marks the latest puzzling chapter in the transfer waiver saga that unfolded over the offseason, and has left nearly everyone (outside the NCAA offices – or maybe not?) as confused as ever about the process – including CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish. The folks at Georgetown may or may not be surprised by the news as well, but they are surely excited to have their big man ready for the season opener. As for the rest of us, the state of confusion we currently find ourselves in is understandable, but perhaps it’s time to give the NCAA the benefit of the doubt. They may have finally figured out that more leniency with the transfer policy benefits both the kids and the sport. Increased transparency from the governing body will be necessary at some point, but for now, I’ll take Smith’s immediate eligibility as a sign of changing times.

Thanks To A Generous NCAA Ruling, Josh Smith Will Be On The Court When Georgetown Kicks Off Their Season In Seoul, South Korea On Nov. 8 (Harry How/Getty Images)

Thanks To A Generous NCAA Ruling, Josh Smith Will Be On The Court When Georgetown Kicks Off Their Season In Seoul, South Korea On Nov. 8 (Harry How/Getty Images)

When the NCAA overturned its own decision to deny Kerwin Okoro’s waiver request a month ago, we had to know then that the organization was finally beginning to hear the vitriol of fans and media surrounding the transfer issue. The Smith ruling may be a more subtle version of that phenomenon. Jay Bilas tweeted that the Smith ruling was “not objectionable,” but that what is objectionable is that “the NCAA rejects so many others, with no coherent policy.” Agreed, and while we have no coherent policy in place, the Smith decision certainly feels like the waving of the white flag. If the NCAA is going to set such a clear precedent with a case like Smith’s – after all the discussion on the waiver issue this offseason – we have to assume enough self-awareness on the part of the NCAA to presume that they are going to be taking a far softer approach to the issue. We can hope for a definitive public stance on the issue before next offseason, but the blatant nature of this case should mean we are headed for fewer denied waiver requests, and eventually, perhaps none.

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The Jason Capel-Devonte Graham Controversy is Officially a Mess

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 30th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

The biggest source of frustration with the NCAA’s outdated guidelines is its amateurism philosophy, which holds that student-athletes cannot accept money above the amount provided with a room and board scholarship. Not far behind is the swath of restrictive policies the organization has in place, primarily those concerning transfers. In a world where coaches are allowed to switch jobs on a whim, collecting fat paychecks in the transfer while players are forced not only to seek a permission to contact and clear a desired destination with their head coach but also sit out one season before regaining eligibility, is royally screwed up. Few rational people deny this. Another source of mass antipathy? The national letter of intent (NLI), which basically forces players to give up every form of leverage they have before ever enrolling at their university of choice. By signing the NLI, players are: 1) prohibited from being recruited by other schools; 2) forced to enroll at their selected school, lest give up 25 percent of their athletic eligibility; 3) forced to abide by standard transfer rules (permission to contact, maniacally restrictive coaches declaring a raft of schools and conferences off limits, the customary one-year holdover penalty, etc.). This does not sound like a fair agreement, and it isn’t! Which leads one to wonder why a player like Devonte Graham, a point guard from Raleigh who committed to Appalachian State in September 2012 and used the early November signing period to ink his NLI, would ever sign it in the first place.

Not releasing Graham from his NLI makes Graham come off as cruel and unforgiving, but we may not know the full story (AP).

After signing to play for Appalachian State and head coach Jason Capel, Graham’s stock soared as he impressed coaches during his senior season at Broughton High School. Other schools – schools most young point guards from Raleigh would choose over Appalachian State at a moment’s notice (no offense, App) – predictably took notice. Graham had soon drawn interest from a host of high D-I programs, including Pittsburgh, Providence, Creighton, Wichita State, UConn and Rhode Island. By mid-February, Graham had asked for a release from his NLI to pursue a more high-profile college hoops experience. Far from being cooperative, Capel failed to oblige his request. Now spending a post-graduate year at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, essentially stuck in eligibility limbo, Graham faces the likelihood of having to burn one year of eligibility if he decides to transfer to another school. Unless, of course, Capel sets him free. Based on a statement released from the school Saturday, it only appears the school, and Capel, are digging their heels in even further.

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Is Coach K’s ‘no exception’ suggestion for transfers a good one?

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 17th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

In a college basketball offseason that gave us P.J. Hairston’s rather odd fascination with rental cars, Brad Stevens’ sudden move to the NBA, and not much else to talk or write about, institutional issues do a pretty good job filling in the gaps. The number one topic this summer, other than the larger debate on amateurism – which is more a college sports issue writ large, baked in with Johnny Manziel controversy, than strictly a college basketball issue – has been transfer waivers, and the perplexing nuances therein. The practice of allowing players to switch schools without sitting out a season before regaining eligibility has come under intense scrutiny of late thanks to a couple of baffling cases. The first involved FIU’s Rakeem Buckles, whose petition to follow former FIU coach Rick Pitino to Minnesota, and escape the postseason ban placed on the Panthers due to low academic progress rate scores registered during the regrettable Isaiah Thomas era, and be eligible to play immediately was flatly denied by the NCAA. The denial was puzzling on several fronts, most notably the inability to reconcile the NCAA’s decision with FIU’s academic-related postseason ineligibility, a condition that has typically lead to favorable transfer rulings in the past – including just this summer, when Malik Smith, a former FIU teammate, was granted a waiver to play right away at Minnesota. Then there was the Kerwin Okoro case, which was resolved last Friday, when the NCAA granted the Iowa State transfer the right to play this season at his new home (Rutgers) after losing his New York-stationed father and brother over a two-month span last winter.

The NCAA's decision to grant Okoro immediate eligibility was long overdue (AP Photo).

The NCAA’s decision to grant Okoro immediate eligibility was long overdue (AP Photo).

The decision to allow Okoro to play immediately seemed like an obvious decision. Of course, two family deaths in an abbreviated time period meets the standard of hardship the NCAA must assess before granting immediate eligibility. But the fact the organization needed this long to clear Okoro, and actually went as far as to deny his request in the first place, is a perfect distillation of the cognitive dissonance that modern transfer culture, unwittingly or no, inspires. It’s gotten so bad, that arguably the most powerful voice in college basketball – and one of the most powerful among all levels of basketball, full stop – wants a wholesale restructuring of the way transfer cases are adjudicated. Instead of allowing the NCAA to function in this sort of uncomfortable moral arbiter role, drawing distinctions on the severity of the different hardship cases that pass through its office, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski wants every case to be treated the exact same way: “no exceptions“.

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After Puzzling Summer Rulings Is It Time To Wave Goodbye To The Waiver Process?

Posted by nvr1983 on September 10th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.

Selection Sunday rarely leaves us unsatisfied. Sure, there will be questionable inclusions in the field and a handful of notables left out of the bracket, but give me a shout when you find a college basketball fan who counts themselves as a Selection Sunday detractor. The same cannot be said when it comes to the fad that is quickly becoming college basketball’s second most important selection process – the immediate eligibility transfer waiver. Maybe we are all a bit starved for relevant college hoops information, but in these dog days of summer the NCAA’s administration of the transfer waiver has become a definite hot-button topic. Two cases in particular have stirred the pot: the rejection of Rutgers transfer Kerwin Okoro, who lost two family members within a year and sought to be closer to the rest of his family, and the denial of wannabe Minnesota Golden Gopher Raheem Buckles due to FIU’s APR issues, but only after a former FIU teammate was granted the same waiver that Buckles sought. Many different outlets have weighed in on the issue, but only one thing is clear – there is no perfect solution.

Kerwin Okoro’s Failed Immediate Eligibility Hardship Waiver Has Left Many Asking For Answers From The NCAA (Credit: WNCN.com)

Kerwin Okoro’s Failed Immediate Eligibility Hardship Waiver Has Left Many Asking For Answers From The NCAA (Credit: WNCN.com)

One of the more supportive analyses of the NCAA and their waiver selection process comes from John Infante, who believes that in the big picture, “the waiver system is one of the NCAA’s success stories.” He does admit to the many individual failings when it comes to the enactment of the system and clamors for increased transparency, but the above point is one that many seem to miss. There may have been a number of cases, especially of late, that don’t seem fair, but we forget how many lives have been aided due to the existence of the waiver. Critics of the mere existence of the hardship waiver will argue that a player is free to transfer closer to home even without a waiver, but sitting that year out on the court is a sacrifice that should not be overlooked. Most of these kids have spent their entire lives building for these four years of basketball. Even severely ill (and selfless) parents may seek to avoid them missing that year on the floor, and potentially at all costs. The hardship waiver removes that gut-wrenching decision for student-athletes and their families. As Infante argues, it would be great to know a little more about the process behind the decision-making, but there are student-athletes out there whose lives have been unequivocally improved as a result of the waiver.

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Understanding the Key Difference Between Dez Wells’ and Michael Dixon’s Transfer Cases

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 5th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

When Dez Wells was cleared to play for Maryland last season after transferring from Xavier without sitting out the customary holdover year, a precedent was set. A player accused of sexual assault and expelled from his former university not only bypassed legal prosecution entirely – he managed to cut through the NCAA’s thorny web of restrictions to earn a waiver and essentially forward his college hoops career without missing a beat, unencumbered by the questionable circumstances surrounding his departure. Wells was painted as the victim of a false accusation; when the NCAA heard his request, it was sympathetic to the impassioned backing of a local prosecutor who publicly blasted Xavier school brass for unfairly bringing down the iron fist on Wells. There was also the suspicion, true or not, that Xavier was using Wells to demonstrate its hardline stance against sexual impropriety on campus, an issue the university had received no small measure of scrutiny for in the months leading up to the Wells incident. The whole saga – which, thanks to Wells recently filing a lawsuit seeking damages for Xavier’s allegedly specious expulsion of him, continues to percolate in the backdrop to the sophomore guard’s burgeoning stardom at Maryland – seemed nebulous and sinister and sketchy. It was a unique case, and it lay the groundwork for yesterday’s news from CBS Sports columnist and Memphis hoops informant Garry Parrish that former Missouri guard Michael Dixon – suspended and dismissed from the Tigers last November after a second allegation of sexual assault – had been granted a waiver to play right away this season.

It's important to understand the differences between Dixon's situation and Wells' (Getty Images).

It’s important to understand the differences between Dixon’s situation and Wells’ (Getty Images).

All summer, as people speculated about Dixon’s chances of being cleared to play, they pointed optimistically to Wells’ case – as if the same logic absolving Wells of potential NCAA punishment would lead to Dixon being granted the final season of college hoops he no doubt wanted to play. That’s how case law, the legal philosophy underpinning the American judicial system, works. A precedent is set and similar cases are adjudicated in a manner compatible with previous decisions. It’s the general idea here, too, but there’s one crucial distinction between Dixon’s and Wells’ cases that everyone seems to be glossing over. Wells, like Dixon, eluded a criminal charge, but he was also defended loudly and bombasitcally by a local prosecutor. Reasoned legal officials were behind him the whole way, blasting Xavier for what looked like school administrators using a high profile student-athlete to prove, once and for all (even if it meant overstretching their punitive reach), that sexual malfeasance would not be tolerated on Xavier’s campus. Wells was defended vehemently and unconvincingly – it was impossible not to get the impression, given the reaction from court officials, that Xavier had overstepped its bounds.  Then there’s Dixon, who – let’s be clear – likewise avoided criminal punishment. Here’s the key point of delineation: After Dixon was kicked off the team in November, Missouri officials did not speak fondly of (and certainly never came to his defense) Dixon’s conduct when interested schools came calling about the possibility of adding Dixon for his senior season. One unnamed Division I head coach, in fact, told ESPN’s Jason King in June that Tigers’ athletic director Mike Alden “shredded him [Dixon] to my AD.” Meanwhile, law enforcement was notably silent on the matter – neither condoning nor speaking out against Missouri’s decision to dismiss Dixon.

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Michael Dixon: Will His Rumored Addition Give Memphis an Added Boost?

Posted by Chris Johnson on June 5th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn. 

Watching under-performing forward Tarik Black walk away from his final year of eligibility at Memphis (and jump to Kansas) hurt. It was a shot – not lethal or even multi-wins-altering, but a shot – at Memphis’ very bright outlook in 2013. Waving farewell to hyper-talented if half-bloomed wing Adonis Thomas, who declared for the NBA draft after an underwhelming sophomore season, was another blow. The departures were starting to pile up, and the Tigers, populated with a quality three-man returning backcourt though they were, needed something to balance the scale. Michael Dixon’s reported commitment does more than that. If the rumors are true — and as of Wednesday afternoon, after ESPN’s Jason King got text message confirmation from Dixon denying what Memphis fans were no doubt all too ready to assume, that’s really all we have right now; rumors — the scab-picking losses of Black and Thomas and gives Josh Pastner another dynamic backcourt scorer to put Memphis in tip-top shape right as they dive into a new league, the AAC.

The possibility of having more speed, quickness and playmaking flair to Memphis' backcourt could shake up the inaugural AAC title chase (US Presswire).

The possibility of having more speed, quickness and play-making flair to Memphis’ backcourt could shake up the inaugural AAC title chase (US Presswire).

This is all really encouraging stuff (again, to reiterate: nothing is official just yet) for Memphis fans, and I would like to perk up and say I agree, that it’s just as rosy and auspicious as it all sounds, but alas: the hard news. Dixon can only play for the Tigers this season if his appeal for an NCAA waiver is granted. If something seems curiously wrong here and if you are wondering why Dixon should have to sit out another season after being kicked off the Missouri team last year after being charged with sexual assault, your concerns are valid. They also have a simple answer. Dixon, you see, didn’t play in any games last year, but was enrolled in classes to begin the fall semester. That academic involvement could push Dixon’s highly-anticipated return – and after averaging 13.5 points and posting a 122.7 offensive rating in 2012, with the chance to enter a Memphis backcourt that would almost immediately join the likes of Louisville and UConn in tier of elite AAC guard posses, who doesn’t want to see Dixon skip the procedural one-year transfer penalty? – to next season, which wouldn’t challenge Memphis’ likely status in the preseason Top-25, or even really raise questions about the Tigers’ ability to jump headfirst into the Conference USA-reduxed AAC. In the event Dixon can’t play upon arrival, Memphis would still be formidable, still be picked to finish in the top half of its new league and still almost surely earn Pastner his second consecutive NCAA Tournament birth. But you can bet your bottom dollar the Tigers want Dixon around, this year, with this team. Read the rest of this entry »

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Don’t Assume the Obvious With Former UNLV Guard Katin Reinhardt’s Transfer

Posted by Chris Johnson on May 28th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Give a top-100 backcourt star enough touches and shot attempts, and he probably won’t find much of a reason to complain about his freshman season of college basketball. Using 19.2 percent of your team’s possessions, firing off 22.2 percent of available shots and logging 29.2 minutes per game seems like a pretty sweet deal for a rookie joining a preseason Top 25 team, all things considered, and after watching five of last season’s eight top scorers leave either through transfer or graduation, you’d think former UNLV guard Katin Reinhardt might find favor in the idea of returning to more shot-making opportunities, an even higher usage rate and a coach with no choice but to green-light his talented if mercurial returning sophomore shooting guard in a lineup relatively devoid of offensive firepower. Reinhardt wasn’t clamoring for more shot attempts, in other words.

A move to a new program could allow Reinhardt to jump into the point guard spot he opted not to compete for at UNLV (AP).

A move to a new program could allow Reinhardt to jump into the point guard spot he opted not to compete for at UNLV (AP).

Turns out, shots and individual scoring freedom weren’t what Reinhardt was interested in after all. All those shots and possessions – and the mediocre 98.6 offensive rating and 45.8 effective field goal percentage they partly created – didn’t accord with Reinhardt’s personal developmental hoops agenda. He wanted a position change all along, a switch from his shot-heavy off-guard spot to point guard, where he believes he has a more secure future at the next level. Head coach Dave Rice spun it that way to the Las Vegas Review-Journal Sunday night, and lo and behold, Reinhardt’s position-swapping desires were so pressing and so uncertain, that the rising sophomore two-guard has decided to transfer to another school.

Katin told me why he was leaving. He said that he feels his best opportunity to play in the NBA is to play more minutes at the point guard position. Katin would have had an opportunity to compete for minutes at the point, but I’ve never guaranteed anyone that they will start or play a certain number of minutes.

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Kansas Adds Former Memphis Big Tarik Black, Tidying Up a Gold-Striking Offseason

Posted by Chris Johnson on May 22nd, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

In professional sports, the offseason is when most teams proactively set out with clearly defined roster goals, scour the personnel grapevine and come up with intricate ways to improve their respective outfits within the limiting constructs of salary cap barriers. Teams dangle mid-level exceptions and veteran minimum deals in the hopes of discovering that year’s market inefficiency. LeBron James goes on national television, announces his decision to join the Miami Heat, generating millions of dollars for local Boys & Girls Clubs charities in the act, and immediately transforms into some variation of demonic NBA anti-Christ. That is, in its most polarized narrative rendering, the very essence of free agency – player movement, buzz, flash, improvement, cost-cutting, not-five-not-six-not-seven-championships-type stuff. It’s a complex system that involves a tsunami of minor contingencies and rules, each sport offering its own unique guidelines to control the same underlying concept: free player movement.

Landing Black, after landing Wiggins, makes Kansas the Big 12 frontrunner in 2013-14 (AP Photo).

Landing Black, after landing Wiggins, makes Kansas the Big 12 frontrunner in 2013-14 (AP Photo).

College sports are different. The nomadic tides of inter-team player voyages is much easier to follow, the stipulations and legislative jargon more streamlined and simply understood. There are two primary ways teams go about acquiring new players. The first is the transfer, which is complex only when coaches and players make it so – but the idea is simple. A player leaves one school, finds a new one, and begins his career in a new and hopefully more personally gratifying location. The more common mechanism underpinning the constant churn of the player-eligibility cycle is recruiting. First year players replace last year’s first year players, moving up the ladder and burning eligibility along the way, right up until the clock runs out and careers come to a screeching halt. Kansas used both avenues to improve its perennially dominant basketball program this offseason. If you live under a rock, or somehow happened to gloss over the fact that the best high school prospect of the past decade announced his college choice last week, the name Andrew Wiggins probably remains something like an ethereal, distant, fairy-tale concept. If you’re up to snuff on even the most nebulous outer fringes of  the college hoops news cycle, the name should ring a bell. Wiggins did announce his intention to play his (assumed) one season of college basketball at Kansas, and on Monday night KU learned its bullish offseason fortunes were only just beginning.

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Maryland’s Addition of Dez Wells Points to a Bright Terrapin Future

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 5th, 2012

Christopher Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

The short-term outlook for Mark Turgeon and the Maryland Terrapins was already bright. On Tuesday, though, the program received an added boost thanks to a timely pickup on the free agent transfer market. Dezmine Wells, who was expelled from Xavier on controversial sexual allegations charges that were later challenged and struck down by an Ohio grand jury, prompted an open recruiting war between some of the nation’s top programs for his services. After more than a week of visits and deliberations, Wells chose Maryland over Memphis, Oregon and Kentucky. He made the decision official on his Twitter account with a repentant and humbling message to his four suitors. And with that conclusion, Wells turned down the defending national champion and the NBA talent-grooming coach that inhabits its sidelines, a Memphis program poised to strengthen its brand name and recruiting footprint with an impending move into a revamped Big East, and the Nike-backed Oregon Ducks, who offer all the amenities and perks any elite college hoops star could ever hope to enjoy at his program of choice.

Maryland won an intense bidding war for Wells’ services (Photo credit Streeter Lecka/Getty Images).

The decision marks yet another indication of positive momentum toward Turgeon’s goal of re-establishing Maryland as the perennial ACC and national title threat it once was. The putative benefits are obvious: Wells is a 6’ 5’’, 215-pound freight train with immense talent and upside, a dynamic scorer and playmaker adept at creating his own shot off the dribble, and one of last season’s truly impressive freshman talents whose steady scoring (9.8 PPG) and rebounding (4.9 RPG) production went somewhat unnoticed amid the tumult of XU’s post-brawl struggles. The Terrapins will likely have to wait until the 2013-14 season to reap the on-court rewards of their newest addition; Wells is expected to apply for a hardship waiver that would allow him to play next season, but CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman doubts the NCAA will grant his request. But with Wells in tow, the Terrapins are positioned well to challenge the elite ranks of the ACC down the line. Maryland boasts a young but promising rotation featuring rising talents like guards Nick Faust and center Alex Len – to say nothing of sure-handed junior point guard Pe’shon Howard – and welcomes two top-100 recruits (small forward Jake Layman and center Shaquille Cleare) into the mix. The young core should improve with another years’ development and maturation, just in time for Wells and Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz (not to mention the legitimate prospect of adding super twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison) to enter the fold in 2013. That’s a deep and talented group, one with more than enough firepower to go toe-to-toe with perennial league contenders UNC, Duke and newbies Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

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Taking Stock of UConn’s Transfers: Who Ended Up Where?

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 27th, 2012

Christopher Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

Between its poor chemistry, inconsistent performance in conference play and seemingly complacent disposition on the court, the 2011-12 UConn Huskies could never regain the competitive drive that propelled its National Championship effort one year earlier. Despite a wealth of returning talent – including small forward Jeremy Lamb, shooting guard Shabazz Napier and big men Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith, not to mention a highly-touted freshmen class featuring center Andre Drummond and point guard Ryan Boatwright – Jim Calhoun’s squad never developed the leadership dynamic it needed and failed to discover an effective way to mesh together the holdovers from the previous season’s title-winning team. The powerhouse program experienced an unexpected down season, but that was the least of its concerns. As penalty for failing to meet the NCAA’s minimum four-year and two-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) standards, UConn was ruled ineligible for the 2013 postseason. Despite an appeal for alternate penalties and a waiver request – filed under the claim that recently instituted reforms had led to improved academic performance over the past two years – the NCAA held firm on its verdict. The program that just one year earlier was riding an all-time high after winning its third national championship had bottomed out, but the lost hope of a 2013 postseason appearance wasn’t nearly as concerning as the resulting personnel departures it prompted.

NCAA rules prevent Smith from playing this season, but he should join a talented UNLV frontcourt in 2013-14 (Photo credit: Julio Cortez/AP Photo).

Following UConn’s first-round NCAA Tournament loss to eight-seed Iowa State, the quasi-exodus began in earnest. First Oriakhi announced his intention to transfer, a move that – according to an NCAA rule enabling Oriakhi to bypass the customary one-year wait period because of UConn’s ineligibility for postseason play – enabled him to find a school with a legitimate chance of participating in the 2013 postseason. Big man Michael Bradley followed suit soon thereafter. Smith was the third to leave the program, marking a severe depletion of frontcourt talent and depth. And that’s without mentioning Lamb and Drummond, who – whether motivated by the postseason ban or otherwise – declared for the NBA Draft. The NCAA on Friday issued a ruling on Smith’s eligibility for the upcoming season. The result was hardly surprising, but it nonetheless compelled me to delve into the whereabouts of the three UConn transfers and investigate their prospects for the upcoming season. Below you’ll find a brief summary of each player’s state of affairs as they prepare for life at their respective new programs.

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