Friday, May 1, 2009

Roster Moves -- Early Draftees and Departures

No sooner had the Tar Heels won the National Championship than ESPN was putting together the Top 25 for next season. Rediculously early of course, given we did not even know who among the underclassmen would declare for the NBA draft. The deadline passed earlier this week (April 26th), so while who among the unsigned will stay in the draft we do have an idea of those who will not be back. Combined with a list of early (outbound) transfers, the situation for a number of Big East teams is a good deal clearer than it was even 3 weeks ago. Graduation and exhaustion of eligibility are predicatable. They can be planned for; a roster and "recruitment stream" can be developed based on those predicatble roster events. Early departures, irrespective of the rational (the NBA draft, transfer or transgressions -- academic or civil), can play havoc on roster planning and development. A quick look at the Big East's contribution to the Early Entry List...

ConnecticutAtar MajokRS/FRNo agent
Hasheem ThabeetJRDefinitely gone
DePaulMac KoshwalSONo agent
Dar TuckerSOWithdrew from DePaul
GeorgetownDaJuan SummersJRHired agent
LouisvilleEarl ClarkJRWill hire agent
Notre DameLuke HarangodyJRNo agent
PittsburghDeJuan BlairSOHired agent
SyracuseEric DevendorfRS/SRNo agent
Jonny FlynnSOWill hire agent
Paul HarrisJRNo agent
VillanovaScottie ReynoldsJRNo agent

If most fans took early entry this post season for Clark (Louisville), Thabeet (UConn) and Flynn (Syracuse) as a foregone conclusion, Harangody (Notre Dame), Reynolds (Villanova) and Summers (Georgetown) were largely unanticipated. Yellow highlighted players have not hired agents to this point, and may well return after taking a few tryouts and getting feedback from scouts.

Transfers -- Outbound...
With the passing of the third week of the post season, outbound transfer notes have slowed to a trickle. Most begin as rumors in the last month or so of the season (or in the last weeks of the fall semester...) that are confirmed in the first or second week of the off season. Academic dismissals are still ahead, and disciplinary dismissals can occur at any time (never a "convenient" time), but the transfer list so far is illuminating if underwhelming...

GeorgetownOmar WattadGSo
ProvidenceAlex KelloggSFSo
RutgersChristian Morris5FrMid-year
Seton HallMike Davis5So
South FloridaMike Mercer1-2JrMid-year
St. John'sTyShwan Edmondson1-2Fr
VillanovaCasiem Drummond5SoMid-year

Note that Drummond (Villanova-to-Marist), Mercer (South Florida) and Morris (Rutgers) all exited as the fall semester 2008 was concluding. The effect of those transfers was absorbed during the second half of the season. Of those who announced their departures after the season, Edmondson may have been the biggest contributor during the season. For a few teams the cumulative impact of departures may have an effect on performance next season. An alphabetically correct look at a few of those teams...

Tucker had several eye-catching performances early in the season (the Creighton loss, for example), but by the end of February his moves were largely known and defensed pretty consistently. His shooting accuracy dropped even as his offensive rating (per Ken Pomeroy's DePaul Scout Page) declined from a decent (for taking 33% of the Demon's shots) 107.2 down to 95.0 (while still taking 1 in 3 shots). Tucker's possessive tendencies hurt the Demon's offense; his departure may well prove to be addition by subtraction, but losing Koshwal (should he stay in the draft), one of the conference's best rebounders at both ends of the court (and the second more efficient offensive player on the Demon roster last season) will hurt. The Demons will bring in a few good players next season, but Coach Wainwright will spend part of the spring signing period interviewing replacements for his entire staff. Under pressure from DePaul's AD to shake things up, Wainwright dismissed his entire staff. A Chicago-based recruiting hot shot would be a priority, and probably the only change that will save his job. Wainwright will start next season as the Coach Sitting in the Hottest Seat.

While many thought the Hoyas would have difficulty matching their 2007-08 numbers, few thought they would fall as far as they did this past season. Georgetown began the 2008-09 season with a 10-1 run, only to stumble to a 12th place finish in the Big East with a 7-11 conference record. They Hoyas went 6-14 over the last 3 months of the season amid rumors of dissention within the team and conflicts between several team members. Summer's exit to the draft after an unimpressive season confirmed there were problems. Omar Wattad, the 7th John Thompson recruit to transfer out in the last 4 years, will be replaced no doubt by a recruit more talented than he, but the cumulative effect of those transfers will be, going forward, a lack of senior and upperclassmen leadership on the squad. If the Villanova team demonstarated anything, it may be that the leaders were not the most productive members of the squad, but their contributions, both tangible and intangible, were important to the team's success.

The post season roster moves have to be counted as the most bizaare of the conference's teams. In the Orange's last week of the season, Jonny Flynn announced he would be back next season. Less than two weeks later he reversed himself and announced that not only would he test the draft, but he would hire an agent and absolutely leave. According to both Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf, each was "taken by surprise" when the team announced they were leaving for the draft. Neither apparently, had notified the team they intended to test the waters. Those two have not hired agents, so there is a theoretical possibility they may return. According to a post season interview however, it appears the Head Coach has already moved on.

Losing Casiem Drummond was less painful and originally anticipated. Going into next season without Scottie Reynolds (should he decide to stay in the draft) however will deny the Wildcats their best scorer since Randy Foye. A last season may be beneficial to both Reynolds and Villanova. I am one fan who would look forward to seeing him play for the Wildcats one more season.

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