With the good part of the basketball season behind every Big East team, the silly part is now directly in the crosshairs. Actual hoops is replaced by seven months of speculation as people wonder where recruits and transfers will end up and postulate regarding the fates of coaches on the hot seat or the futures of coaches who are hot property. In the middle of this whirlwind, very little is certain. Something that is etched in stone is the list of players who are planning to transfer schools.
Transfers, as Xavier fans well know, can be high-impact players in the course of a program. You can look here to see a complete list of players who are changing affiliations this summer, but for now, we'll focus on the Big East, starting with players who have indicated their intent to head elsewhere:
Sophomore G/F Andrew Smeathers (Mount St. Mary's)
Sophomore G Devontae Morgan
Freshman G Rene Castro
Freshman C Nolan Berry
It's not surprising to see some guys leave a program when there is a change in coaching personnel, but to have the new guy lose half of his first recruiting class plus two ostensibly talented players in his first season is not an auspicious sign. Xavier fans will remember when Coach Mack came in, had to make hasty recruiting decisions after Coach Miller left, and ended up with a mostly busted class that hamstrung the program's depth for a solid couple of years. Butler may find themselves in the same position, except they don't have anyone on the roster who can take over games like Tu and Cheeks did.
Junior F Greg Whittington
Whittington, who average 12.1/7.0/2.0 as a sophomore, first tore his ACL last June and then was dismissed from the team in November. Early reports had him landing at Rutgers, but more recent news is that he is not going to join the Scarlet Knights. Goodman lists him as going to Rutgers on the transfer list, so maybe he patched things up there. The takeaway from all this, of course, is that he's no longer at Georgetown.
Junior F Jameel McKay (Iowa State)
McKay was a JuCo transfer who had been an All-American at that level twice in two years. He committed to Marquette last summer but withdrew and transfered to Iowa State before he ever set foot on the floor for Marquette. He ended up signing with Iowa State and will be eligible beginning in December. This is hardly a loss for the Golden Eagles, as he never actually suited up for them, but it's still technically a transfer.
Freshman SF Brandon Austin (Oregon)
Austin was an ESPN100 recruit for Coach Ed Cooley, but he ran afoul of the student code of conduct before ever getting a minute's playing time. He was suspended from the team indefinitely in November and it was announced in December that he would not play that season. Austin was granted his release and took off for Oregon, robbing the Friars of a very talented player before he could ever make an impact on the team.
Junior G Hakeem Harris
Harris was a JuCo guard who had been committed to Columbia and Brown before going the two-year route. Apparently Seton Hall didn't agree with him, either, because he played in just three games there before once again heading out. Harris has a reputation as having the handle to play both guard positions and a good shot, but he really has a lot of miles on the ol' odometer at this point.
Junior G Max Hooper
Hooper is a very good three-point shooter who shot 40.3% from behind the arc for the Red Storm this year. The 6'6" Californian transfered in from Harvard but had trouble getting a lot of court time for Coach Steve Lavin, so he'll be heading out for his third school in as many seasons of eligibility. He is on track to graduate in May, so he'll likely be eligible immediately for whoever signs him.
The bottom line here is that there will be little impact to the league with departing transfers. Butler is obviously on the precipice of heading a very bad direction, but guys generally depart because they were marginal players, and this group is no different. Greg Whittington is the most talented player here, and he didn't get a single minute last season. Beyond him, only Hooper both played this season and seemed to have been in line to have any meaningful impact on the future of the program. Losing talented recruits before they even suit up will hurt Providence and Marquette a bit, but by and large the most meaningful players to leave the conference did so in the first semester, not after the season.
Come back Thursday for our look at the players transferring into the league, as well as which teams may be targeting immediately eligible players.