On March 21, USC freshman guard Alexis Moore was granted his release, permitting him to transfer to another school after just one season with the Trojans. The news coincided with sophomore forward Curtis Washington also being given his release.
And the week before, another player, sophomore forward Garrett Jackson, also left the program and looked to head elsewhere.
Yes, three players have transferred from USC this offseason – a fairly high number considering it’s about 25 percent of its roster. But this isn’t a unique trend. This isn’t a USC development. It’s something happening everywhere.
An unofficial CBSSports.com tabulation this week pointed out that nearly 400 players across the country are seeking a transfer, which is at least one per Division I school.
These numbers are reflective of the latest trend in college basketball: sometimes a player might clash with a coach, fight for more playing time or fail to fit in academically.
Sometimes, he just wants to move back closer to home, wherever that might be. So he meets with his parents, his family, his friends and then he requests his release, talks to other schools and transfers.
According to data, outlined last week in a Washington Post story, in 2009-10 and 2008-2009, 422 and 400 players nationwide transferred, respectively. So, on average, at least one player leaves each school every offseason.
It seems high. It is high – after a quick glance at the numbers.
The Post also pointed out a transfer rate of 10.1 percent – the highest of any NCAA varsity sport, men’s or women’s.
Some have called the trend startling, an epidemic in the modern culture of college hoops. Naturally, the question is, well, why? Why are so many leaving? Why are they leaving so often?
And that’s a hard question that becomes increasingly difficult to answer, mainly because in many of these instances, there are specific, personal reasons. There isn’t always a one-size-fits-all answer.
In the case of Washington, he struggled with injuries, never developed properly, never quite fit – skill-wise – into the Pac-12 and so he transferred to Georgia State.
Take Tennessee transfer Renaldo Woolridge for example, who is graduating and is actually transferring to USC as a part of a one-time exemption that allows graduate student to play immediately.
The sport does see hundreds of these each and every offseason. But if there is one unifying factor, this might be it: players want to play and they want to play immediately.
In today’s one-and-done culture, they see players at programs such as Kentucky win an NCAA title, and then become first-round NBA draft picks. It doesn’t happen for everyone. Many, though, want that chance though, that chance to star.
“They don’t like their high school situation, they transfer. They aren’t happy with their AAU team, they transfer,” ESPN senior recruiting analyst Dave Telep told the Washington Post last week. “There’s so many opportunities for them to go to the next best thing that they’re never held accountable, they never fight through any adversity. And what do we expect when they get to college and things get rough? They do exactly what they’ve been taught to do: transfer.”
This is the culture, as Telep so succinctly puts it. Players are conditioned to transfer. They want to play immediately. They want to start. They want become All-Americans.
They want to play in the NBA.
This is college basketball, 2012. It’s a factory to put guys in the professional ranks. Basketball and individual development take priority.
Everything else takes a back seat. It’s 30 minutes per game or bust.
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