A New Look for the American

In a year that ended abruptly due to Covid-19, there was what feels like a mass exodus among NCAA basketball players looking for something different. With players graduating, testing NBA waters or transferring. It seems incredible the number of players that chose to transfer. These players decided to move on whether it was due to a poor fit with the team, looking to go pro, looking for more playing time or hopeful that the NCAA would approve the one-time transfer rule. After the NCAA meeting last week, they are postponing the permitting of the one time transfer rule to the 2021-2022 season. The number of transfers are becoming more common.

Since 2012, there have been around 7,300 men’s basketball players that have transferred schools. The number has been steadily increasing since 2012, where it was around 600 players to now where it is around 900 players. Many would believe that this is likely just players going from Junior Colleges to Division 1 or 4 year schools. However, these numbers are actually just for NCAA Division 1 basketball players. A majority of these players are going to a lower tiered college or even to a Junior College. This issue often leaves coaches scrambling to recruit to replace players.

These players, schools and coaches can ask for a waiver for the player to be allowed to immediately play. This often is not allowed and the player sit out for a year. Now, if the player is going to a Junior College they can play immediately, it is if the player is going to another division 1 school. Normally, it is in poor taste for a player to transfer to another school in the same conference and often will not be permitted to do so. The other option is the most common for a player, recruiting incoming freshmen. Usually, this is the most difficult as they need a lot more work and time to grow. It also does not help that Power 5 schools get the first pick of the best incoming freshmen, transfers, etc.

With this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to do a series on the teams around the American Athletic Conference. Wichita State University was one of the teams with an exodus of players. After the season came to an abrupt ending, the team had 4 starting guards that entered the transfer portal. On a team that started hot, going 16-1 with the team’s only loss coming to a West Virginia team in the Cancun Challenge. It wasn’t until a few games later, that the team seemed to have internal problems. The depth acquired for talented guards and the coach’s rules caused issue for the players wanting to be stars. The team lost their starting center to graduation and the fourth string Center to transfer. The total transfers ended up being 8 with 1 player choosing to remain at the school. There is a potential loss of one more star player in Dexter Dennis, who has put his name in for the NBA Draft. One of the players went to a power 5 conference while the other two went to lateral or lesser conferences.

The biggest shock for players to leave was Jamarius Burton, a 6-foot-4 point guard. He was the most consistent player on the floor as he averaged 27.1 minutes, 10.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. He actually went to a bigger program in Texas Tech. The other players were not as big a shock. The issues that came from Erik Stevenson as he came off the bench more often than not averaged 24.7 minutes, 11.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He went to a school close to him in Washington. The star player, Grant Sherfield, had a lot of preseason praise, is a 6-foot-3 point guard, but at one point during the season was benched. He averaged 25.1 minutes, 8.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Sherfield transferred to Nevada and to the coach, Steve Alford, he originally wanted to play for at UCLA. After being out most of the year due to injury, Noah Fernandes was a player I enjoyed watching. He was electric on defense and always seem to provide a spark to the team. Fernandez averaged 9.9 minutes, 1.4 points, 0.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. He is another player that is going closer to home in UMass. The other two players really are not shocks as they had very little playing time. Asbjorn Midtgaard is going to Grand Canyon University, where he should get more playing time. Being the low man on the totum pole at Center, he had not developed into the player that Coach Marshall was hoping he would be at this time. Midtgaard averaged 8.0 minutes, 1.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.3 assists per game. Finally, DeAntoni Gordon was another player that had a lot of potential, but did not see the minutes he was hoping for. After averaging 6.7 minutes, 0.8 points, 1.1 rebounds and 0.1 assists per game, he transferred to Northwest Mississippi Community College.

The team lost a majority of its starting minutes and a majority of its guards. The staff went into strong recruitment gathering a point guard from the University of Connecticut, who is moving to the Big East, Alterique Gilbert highlights are a thing of beauty. He is a player that Gregg Marshall is looking for as the team seems to be shifting to what they did to have success in the past. The addition of Craig Porter from Vincennes Junior College, is another player brought in to replace a point guard and is also an elite defender. These two could really cause some issues for guards around the league with the tough defense. Clarence Jackson is a 6’6″ Forward from Polk State Community College. To close out the transfers, the team was able to snag the brother of forward Trey Wade, Trevin Wade another tough defender from Georgia Community college. He is more of a small combo guard. The incoming freshmen have a shot for minutes in Chaunce Jenkinsis a 6’4″ freshmen guard and Ricky Council a freshmen 6’5″ guard will likely find minutes behind Gilbert, Tyson Etienne, and Porter. The Center position is up for grabs as Jaime Echenique has graduated. These means that  Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler, Morris Udeze, Josephat Bilau and Jaden Seymour a 6’9″ Freshmen Forward will be fighting for time. A little over 50% of minutes will be up for grabs from last year.

With all of these changes, Coach Marshall is in for quite a handful. While, Marshall is hopeful for Dexter Dennis, I am sure he wants him back on the team to be a leader. In case Dexter does not return that job would likely fall to Trey Wade and emerging leader Tyson Etienne. Etienne put a tweet out that really had the Shocker fan base at ease saying he believed in Coach Marshall and was remaining at Wichita State University.