by Andy Force
sits at the end of your bench. He is too young to be an assistant
coach, too finely dressed to be a student helper. Is he perpetually
hurt, or academically inept? No, he answers to the title of
transfer. Sitting out a year only to have "X-factor" thrust upon his
shoulders by beat writers. Transfers, though college-experienced, are
often an unknown to the local fan base, since they "must complete one
academic year of residence at the certifying institution before being
eligible to compete for or receive travel expenses from the member
institution (NCAA Transfer Guide)." This year away from the court is
an abyss that takes even the most talented off the national radar.
Reasons for transferring vary, but color analyst Dick Vitale is pretty
confident in the overriding reason. "It gets down to one simple thing
for these players (transfers): they want to be uno, Number 1…They get
so caught up with the glamour of a school's name that they don't study
the program, the coach, the role they're asked to play. A lot of kids
are very impatient; they want to make it happen overnight. Some of
these superstars, All-Everything, they can't look in the mirror and
say, 'Maybe I'm not as good as I thought (Dick Vitale).' " Headlining
the 2003-2004 transfer arrivals are the gutsy and energetic Will
Bynum, slasher, leaper James White, and offensive juggernaut Jason
Chicago Crane product, Will Bynum committed to Lute Olsen and the
Arizona Wildcats out of high school. He received the 2000 Chicago
Public League Player of the Year and promised to be another stellar
Wildcat guard. Bynum got plenty of playing time with nearly 19
minutes a game his freshman season, but found himself in the role of
combo-guard. He started nine games along with posting 6.4 points per
game. Bynum played just eight games as a sophomore before asking for
his release from the University of Arizona. He never offered a reason
for his transfer but two theories are the struggle for minutes at
Arizona and his desire to have the ball in his hands more often.
Will's new home Georgia Tech returns three guards who averaged 30+
minutes last year, so minutes will still be an issue. The junior with
a freakish 40-inch vertical leap becomes eligible after his fall
semester final exams are completed (December).
James White, like many McDonald's All-Americans of late, found his way
to Gainesville, Florida out of high school. Florida promises recruits
an uptempo game with minimal restrictions. Billy Donovan has been
bringing in studs like White to town in droves. Maybe it is possible
to have too much talent? Nah, but James White was not happy and chose
Bob Huggins and the Bearcats of Cincinnati instead. White has lost 2
slam dunk contests in his life. The first was to former Gator
teammate David Lee in the summer of 2001, and he lost one to current
teammate Eric "Helicopter" Hicks during the 2003 Cincy Midnight
Madness. With chances of pulling out a dunk title slim, White tried
to leap from the free-throw line AND take the ball between his legs in
the process. White's record was clean until he got to Cincy when he
played in a taping of the And-1 Mix Tape Tour. For participating, the
NCAA told James he will sit out his fall semester (as per transfer
rules) "And-1" game.
Jason Conley could be the most promising of arriving transfers. In
2001-2002, he became the first true freshman to lead the nation in
scoring (29.3 ppg), at the Virginia Military Institute. Missouri
welcomes him to an already talented team. They already feature
Motown-products Ricky Paulding and Arthur Johnson, two of the best at
their positions. Conley's upon asking for his release from VMI said,
"I've always wanted to play at this level (Mizzou)." His arrival
instantly makes Mizzou an offensive giant, though it will be
interesting to see how he melds into Quin Snyder's rotation. Conley
begins his Missouri stint December 22nd.
Here is a list of the most successful transfers in years past.
Loren Woods left Wake Forest and Tim Duncan's hulking shadow for the
dry desert air of Tucson, Arizona. He began playing for the Wildcats
during the 1999-2000 season.
Mike Chappell returned home to the Michigan St. Spartans in 1999-2000
after leaving the Duke Blue Devils. He still played sparingly for his
new team, but won the national title in his first year back in college
Travis Ford began his playing days with the Tigers of Mizzou only to
return to his home state and the Big Blue of the Kentucky Wildcats.
His first full season of play with UK (1992-1993) saw them advance to
the final four only to be ousted by the Fab Five.
Larry Bird. He was pretty good. He left Indiana University's
tradition to create his own legacy at Indiana State University.
Billy McCaffrey might have been the ideal transfer. He left Duke
University amidst struggles for playing time. He found himself at
then struggling Vanderbilt University. McCaffrey quickly became The
Guy in the Music City averaging 20 ppg his first season and receiving
acclaim as the best point guard in the nation.
Coaches seek transfers warily since their contributions rarely match
the pains of midseason recruiting, paperwork, and shortened careers
affiliated with them. The three juniors Bynum, White, and Conley each
have the possibility of becoming one of the few, the proud, the