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’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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Kansas Freshman’s Early Transfer Adds Another Layer of Drama to Offseason Transfer Craze

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 22nd, 2012

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

The volume of conversation on transfers and the culture surrounding the widespread practice has dominated this college basketball offseason. A rash of in-season moves first prompted the discussion, but a public transfer power struggle elevated the dialogue to national headlines. The heated April saga involving former Wisconsin guard Jared Uthoff and head coach Bo Ryan, in which Ryan was demonized for restricting Uthoff’s potential landing destinations and interrogated on America’s most popular national sports talk radio show, brought the issue to a head and seemed to pivot the axis of public opinion in favor of the player. Ryan was painted as an unrelenting tyrant with little concern for his player’s best wishes while the ultimate outcome – Uthoff ended up transferring to Iowa, his home state – was roundly cheered as a momentous victory for Uthoff. The topic gained more steam when’s Luke Winn penned an informative piece on the transfer epidemic that brought to light the recent rise in players jumping to better teams and conferences, what he calls “up-transfers.” Whereas most players typically switch schools to find more playing time,  better academic opportunity or a more favorable location, “up-transfers” move for competitive reasons in a bid to showcase their talents on a more prominent level. By Winn’s definition – up-transfers go “from a mid-major to a major”, “from a less-decorated major to a recent national champ,” or “from an off-the-map school to an elite mid-major” – there are 25 “up-transfers” with eligibility to play next season, several of whom could have conference and national championship implications.

The early departure of Doyle raises the question of whether the NCAA needs to impose tighter controls on transfer timing (Photo credit: Mike Yoder/

The “up-transfer” distinction provided some qualitative clarity for the transfer trend. It also made absolute sense: With an increase in transfers that affect national brand-name programs, fans are bound to catch word of player movement in greater frequency. But it was only after laying eyes on this NCAA Q & A that the scope of college hoop transfers truly hit home. Among other interesting transfer-related queries, the interview revealed that “40 percent of men’s basketball student-athletes will not be competing at their original school by the end of their sophomore year.” That’s a startlingly high number. To no surprise, NCAA is looking into the matter: vice president of academic and membership affairs Kevin Lennon recently told ESPN’s Dana O’Neil that the NCAA is seeking ways to improve the transfer policy. There are several factors to consider here. The NCAA wants a system where players have ample opportunity to better their situations, whether for basketball purposes or an academic change of heart or some combination therein. The concern is that loose regulation will encourage players to switch schools and destabilize the coach-player relationship by enabling a quick get-away if players aren’t content with their current location. It’s a precarious balancing act that requires respecting players’ abilities to change schools – particularly as it applies to the undergraduate hardship waivers that allow players to change locations based on extenuating circumstances such as ill family members or financial distress – while preventing a borderless interschool infrastructure with little or no deterrence for transfers.

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Projecting Duke in Two Years: How Does Rodney Hood Fit In?

Posted by EJacoby on July 3rd, 2012

As we mentioned in Monday’s Morning Five, the biggest name on the transfer market has made his decision. Former Mississippi State guard/forward Rodney Hood is headed to Duke, where he will sit out next season before gaining eligibility in 2013-14. Hood narrowed his options to Duke and Ohio State last week but chose the Blue Devils to become just the fourth major transfer accepted into the program during Mike Krzyzewski’s tenure – joining Roshown McLeod, Dahntay Jones, and current rising senior Seth Curry. With Duke having just suffered a painful upset in the NCAA Tournament to #15 seed Lehigh as well as losing two first round picks to the NBA, the Blue Devils are in need of a new talent infusion into the program. After four-star signee Amile Jefferson chose Duke in May and Hood has also chosen the Devils, Coach K’s team suddenly has a much brighter future. But why did Hood choose Duke? “[Coach K] told me what he saw for my future. He was specific and to the point,” said Hood on his decision. “He said he can make me a better basketball player and one of the best in the country.” Alongside a bevy of other talented wing players, Hood would become the most experienced of the bunch in 2013 and help lead a star-studded roster.

Rodney Hood is bringing his smooth game to Duke ( photo)

Hood will be a redshirt sophomore when he joins Duke the year after next with a year of SEC experience as well as a full season of practice time with the Blue Devils.  A top 30 recruit when he arrived in Starkville, Hood had a solid year for the Bulldogs, averaging 10.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game for a team that experienced a rollercoaster season and missed the NCAA Tournament. He was a steady contributor who played the fifth-most minutes in the SEC (32.8 MPG), compiled a 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio that ranked fourth in the league, and showed an ability to hit the three-point shot (36.4% on 129 attempts). His all-around game as a smooth, 6’8″ wing player should translate well in the future for a Duke team that severely lacked athleticism on the wing last season.

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Most Impactful Incoming Transfers For Next Season

Posted by EJacoby on April 18th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

As most of the top high school recruits have signed their letters of intent and the NBA Draft early entries finish piling up (official deadline: April 29), we’re starting to get a much clearer picture of next season’s rosters. But the other huge factor to consider is the transfer ‘market,’ in which hundreds of players decide to change schools every offseason. Always an unaccounted-for variable in recruiting, certain transfers can drastically change programs. The majority of names on the transfer list each season are players that won’t leave significant dents in a program (coming or going), but there are always some notable departures. Here we lay out the transfers that will have the most significant impact for next season. In that context, this list only includes top incoming players that will be eligible in 2012-13. Most players must sit out for a full year after a transfer, so many of these guys have not been in the news for over a year. We haven’t forgotten about them, and neither should you.

Alex Oriakhi Won a National Title at UConn and Gets to Play Next Season for Missouri (Getty Images/R. Martinez)

INCOMING – These players will be eligible next season for their new teams.

  • Jared Swopshire, Northwestern – He’s taking advantage of the ‘graduate program’ rule in which he can play immediately next season after transferring this offseason, thanks to having graduated from his former school (Louisville) with a year of basketball eligibility still remaining. Despite limited playing time at Louisville, Swopshire is a versatile and talented forward that will look to replace the departed star forward John Shurna and lead Northwestern to its first-ever NCAA Tournament, which is still possible with several returning starters.
  • Alex Oriakhi, Missouri – And the run of Missouri Tigers begins. Oriakhi is eligible immediately next season for a different kink in the rules (UConn being postseason-ineligible), and he fills an important role as a big man for a talented team that lacks size. Laurence Bowers returns from injury next season and Oriakhi steps in as another experienced forward for Mizzou.
  • Jabari Brown, Missouri – This top 20 recruit left Oregon and will be a huge get for Mizzou. The very talented 6’5” guard Brown will help replace the scoring void of departed shooter Marcus Denmon.
  • Earnest Ross, Missouri – Another 6’5” guard, Ross was the leading scorer at Auburn two seasons ago and will step in as another talented scorer for Frank Haith’s Tigers. He can help replace another departed star in Kim English.
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Trey Zeigler Is Heading To Pittsburgh

Posted by nvr1983 on April 7th, 2012

One of the problems with package deals is that sometimes when you let go of the bait you also lose the fish you lured in. Central Michigan found this out when they fired Ernie Zeigler last month and soon after his son Trey Zeigler sought a release from his scholarship that was granted. Trey, who you may remember was much like Ray McCallum in that he chose to play at a lower-tier school to be coached by his father rather than go to one of a dozen or so big-name programs that were recruiting him (in Ray’s case his eventual destination was Detroit). As those of you who follow recruiting are aware, Trey was a highly rated recruit who had plenty of suitors in the so-called power conferences. Although he did not dominate the MAC like some might expect such a highly rated prospect to do, Trey did put up very solid numbers in his two seasons at Central Michigan.

Trey Zeigler Should Play A Major Role At Pittsburgh (Credit: Andrew Kuhn/

His announcement that he would be transferring set off a heated recruiting battle and earlier this afternoon he announced that he would be transferring to Pittsburgh. The move should be a big boost for the Panthers who are coming off the worst season in Jamie Dixon‘s nine years at the school and the first that the team failed to make the NCAA Tournament. The question of when Trey will be eligible to play is still up in the air as he has requested a waiver from the NCAA allowing him to play next year. We are not sure what the basis of his waiver is, but we hope it is not “My father got fired” because we cannot imagine the NCAA signing off on that waiver. If he is able to play next season, he and Travon Woodall would immediately become one of the best starting backcourts in the Big East if not America. If he has to sit out he would join a talented, but largely unproven set of guards and form the nucleus of the next stage of Dixon’s tenure at Pittsburgh.

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Andre Drummond Decides To Stay In Prep School

Posted by nvr1983 on August 10th, 2011

Earlier today Andre Drummond, the consensus #2 player in the class of 2012 (behind Shabazz Muhammad), announced that he would be heading to Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Massachusetts for a post-graduate year. After Drummond graduated from St. Thomas More Academy in Connecticut this spring there was some speculation that he might head to college this coming year with Connecticut being the likely destination as he had previously committed there. However, those rumors were dispelled and it was widely believed that Drummond would return to St. Thomas More for a post-graduate year, which he confirmed as recently as 5 days ago although his coach at St. Thomas More did not appear to be as sure.

Ultimately, Drummond’s decision to switch prep schools for his post-graduate year probably will not affect his “list”, which includes UConn, KentuckyLouisvilleGeorgetown, and West Virginia (even in light of Luke Winn’s excellent research on top-100 recruits and their tendency to switch high schools). In reality, the big question with Drummond has shifted from whether he will go to school “early” (technically it would be on time although he is relatively young for his grade) to whether he will enter the NBA Draft after his post-graduate year. Under the current NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement Drummond would be able to do so (and likely be a top 5 pick) as his high school class would have graduated one year earlier, but that may all change depending on how negotiations go with the ongoing NBA lockout. Like any college basketball fan, we would love to see Drummond in college even if it is only for a year, but it is beginning to seem more likely that we will not be seeing that.

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Larry Drew II Leaves Chapel Hill

Posted by jstevrtc on February 4th, 2011

ESPN’s Pat Forde reported earlier today that North Carolina junior point guard Larry Drew II has decided to leave the Tar Heel basketball team and will transfer.

Drew was the starter at point guard through the first 17 games for UNC before losing the job to freshman Kendall Marshall after the Heels were beaten by 20 points by Georgia Tech on January 16th. Drew had endured a lot of heat from North Carolina fans and both local and national media regarding what just about everyone perceived to be a level of production that fell short of what was expected of him. The Georgia Tech game gave Roy Williams a reason to pull the trigger and insert Marshall into the starting lineup. The two have played similar minutes this year both before and after the switch.

Later For Larry -- Looks Like He's Had Enough

We assume that Drew II will look to transfer to another D-I program. If so, his junior year is now over and he will have one year of eligibility left for next season.

If you believe what you read on a quick scan of certain message boards and the Twitter feed, the conventional wisdom is that Drew II’s departure can only help the Tar Heels. It’s too soon to tell if the switch has resulted in all the positive effects that Drew II’s critics assumed would transpire upon Williams putting Marshall into the starting lineup, since the “Marshall Era” is only four games old. Marshall is unquestionably a fine talent, and his play has remained steady since the switch. Drew II, however, seemed to benefit from coming off the bench in the four games since he was relegated there. He appeared to play with more urgency, especially on defense, and in UNC’s last game (Tuesday’s 106-74 win over Boston College), he dished out a season-high nine assists. In fact, in those four games, playing an average of 19.25 MPG, he contributed 19 assists while committing just four turnovers. Marshall (21.25 MPG) handed out 17 assists and with 11 miscues.

If Drew II’s departure rids the Tar Heels of a team chemistry problem, then it is certainly for the best. Still, it’s worth noting that Drew II owns a championship ring, playing in all 38 games as a freshman on UNC’s 2008-09 title squad. He’s played in four games against Duke, something Marshall will do for just the first time this Wednesday. Drew II’s leaving obviously opens up even more minutes for Marshall, but it also means that North Carolina now has a freshman as their primary ball handler and floor leader, and his level of responsibility just went up — a mere month before tournament time. Will this result in a continued Tar Heel resurgence? As we said, it’s too soon to tell. But we think it’s safe to say that Larry Drew II leaving might not be quite the boon that people think it is right now.

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An Interesting Twist In The Tony Mitchell Saga

Posted by nvr1983 on January 26th, 2011

Many of you are aware of the ongoing ordeal at Missouri where the athletic department has been trying to get a ruling from the NCAA on the eligibility of Tony Mitchell, a recruit considered by many to be one of the top 10 or 15 overall in last year’s class. A recent column by Seth Davis indicated that due to a strange stipulation in the NCAA rules if Mitchell did not enroll at Missouri and take a requisite number of courses by the end of the Spring semester not only would he be ineligible to play this season or even next fall, but he would never be allowed to play at the Division 1 level (scroll down). The exact number of courses that Mitchell needed to take to fulfill that requirement was not known because of some questions about his high school transcripts at an unaccredited school that he briefly attended in Florida. The reported deadline for the NCAA to make a decision and for Mitchell to enroll at Missouri was yesterday (January 25th), which was the last day for a student to enroll at Missouri for the Spring semester. That date came and passed without a ruling or news of Mitchell’s enrollment, but news came out that the decision might be pushed back until March 14th and there was a possibility that he could be eligible this spring.

Mitchell may be headed to the Sun Belt

We called the NCAA with regards to the ruling and the assertion by Davis that Mitchell might never be allowed to play Division 1 basketball, but thus far our calls have not been returned. We were able to get in touch with a spokesperson at Missouri who stated, “We don’t comment on that stuff. When we’re ready to comment we will comment.” Interestingly, shortly after our conversation with the spokesperson at Missouri news broke that Mitchell might be enrolling this year, but at North Texas instead of Missouri. According to some reports, if Mitchell is admitted to North Texas he could potentially be eligible to play next season although he could not be on scholarship until that point and would have to pay in-state tuition (note that the Sun Belt accepts partial qualifiers while the Big 12 does not). We are still waiting for more news on this and to hear back from the NCAA about Mitchell’s eligibility officially, but it seems pretty clear that this is one of the most complex recruiting/eligibility ordeals that we have seen.

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Message Not Received: Sidney To Stay, Bailey To Leave

Posted by jstevrtc on January 3rd, 2011

Earlier today we saw the fallout from the Renardo Sidney vs Elgin Bailey fracas from December 24th. The indefinite suspensions on both players have been lifted; Sidney is reinstated with no further penalty. Bailey has asked for and been granted a release from Mississippi State and plans to transfer.

The linked AP report from offers a preliminary account of the events that led up to the brawl in the stands. Evidently Sidney was trying to walk down the aisle past Bailey, who refused to move his feet to let Sidney by. This is what caused the madness seen on television and by the fans in attendance at the game. The report also mentions that head coach Rick Stansbury confirmed that Sidney would have been dismissed from the team if it had been found that Sidney had started the fight. He notes that the sending home of Sidney and Bailey after the scrap, “sent a strong message…that this type of behavior is unacceptable.”

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