Monday, September 26, 2011

Transfers and JUCOs -- Eight to Watch

The Thing Is...
Restocking a roster with JUCOs is a viable option as a quick, short term remedy for a depleted roster. First and second year coaches take that path, especially if, like Coach Mick Cronin, they step into the kind of post Apocolyptic locker room left by Bob Huggins and Andy Kennedy or, like Coach Steve Lavin, they step into a program very heavily weighted with a single class. The good news is the program has game-ready players. The bad news -- the program has the JUSO's services for two years at best (if the JUCO does not sabotage himself). Transfers may provide an extra season of eligibility (leaving early, like Wesley Johnson, is always a problem), but take a roster spot for the year they have to sit per NCAA-imposed "penalty" for deciding to change schools. Some programs, Xavier, keep their pipeline well stocked with redshirts and transfers, the effect of which reduces the swings that can plague their high school recruiting efforts. The Big East has had an uptick in JUCOs in the 2011 off season, only partly the effect of having four new coaches in the 2011 season -- Mick Cronin and Stan Heath just cannot seem to put old habits aside. The conference again saw more outbound transfers than inbounds from 2010 -- the ones who will be eligible in 2011-12. The following eight new faces are not all destined to be impact players (two or three perhaps...), but all should be solid contributors (at least) to their respective programs...

Who, What, Where...
G G AchiuwaPF6-8240Erie CC (NY)St. John's
Donnavan KirkPF6-9225MiamiDePaul
Nurideen LindseyPG6-4185Redlands CCSt. John's
Cheikh MbodjiC6-9245Grayson Cty JCCincinnati
Blake NashPG6-0175Williston StateUSF
Victor RuddSF6-7205Arizona StateUSF
Dominic RutledgePF6-8225Western Texas CollegeWVU
Jamil WilsonSF6-7220OregonMarquette

Note the 2012-eligible transfers are highlighted in green. A quick check on transfers (but not JUCOs) over at College Hoops Update lists 246 outbound transfers this past spring and summer. Of that cohort, most -- but not all -- who have or will find another D1 program will sit for a season before gaining eligibility. All three listed here (Donnavan Kirk, Victor Rudd and Jamil Wilson) sat for NCAA-mandated two semesters. Donnavan Kirk should be available after DePaul's Autumn Quarter (probably for games in late December and after). The power forward took an injury-related red shirt as a freshman at Miami in 2009-10. He played 13 games for the Hurricanes in 2010-11 before transferring to the Blue Demons. With nearly a year in Coach Purnell's system even before he takes the court, the DePaul staff would have to be very happy if Kirk can develop into a Ray Sykes-type player for them. Assembling Jamil Wilson's statistics was easy, (many...) thanks to Ken Pomeroy. For Kirk and Victor Rudd however, neither logged enough minutes to show up on Pomeroy's radar (he sets a lower boundary of 10% playing time for the team for the season). I used the stats provided by the individual schools to extrapolate many of the efficiency stats. The JUCOs were more problematic, as none of their previous stops contained much by way of detailed data. Unlike prior years, I can do no better than per capita-type stats based on press releases...

On Offense...
Donnavan Kirk1312423.140.60.95
Victor Rudd15937.031.10.93
Jamil Wilson2644433.817.41.00

The percentage of minutes played for Kirk and Rudd is based on the number of games in which they appeared (Rudd logged 7% of the minutes at his position in the 15 games in which he appeared for Arizona State back in the fall of 2010). Of the three, Wilson, who eventually started 14 times in his 26 appearances while at the Eugene, Oregon school. Look for Wilson, a Wisconsin native whose single season in the Pacific Northwest left him a bit homesick, to step into Jimmy Butler's role for Marquette. Butler who was drafted in the first round of the NBA last June, left some very large shoes to fill, but Wilsom offers a slightly better three point shot than Butler who seemed at times to be more a #4 in a #3's body...

Some Four Factors...
Donnavan Kirk23.140.631.3
Victor Rudd7.044.427.8
Jamil Wilson33.846.824.5

Granted the limited minutes played tend to skew offensive number, nevertheless Victor Rudd showed a willingness to shoot, something an offensively-starved Bulls squad certainly needs, but the 6-7 former Sun Devil will have to convert more efficiently if he is going to log significant minutes in a front court rotation that includes Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and Hugh Robertson.

...per Game
Blake Nash22.
God's Gift Achiuwa22.311.71.31.3
Nurideen Lindsey22.
Cheikh Mbodj15.

All four played an entire JUCO season in 2011. For a program that returns a single rotation player from their 2011 squad, St. John's will have more than enough minutes to give to Nurideen Lindsey and God's Gift Achiuwa. The two were headliners at their respective squads. Achiuwa was in the conversation for a few Division 1 programs, but academics were a problem. Lindsey drew quite a bit of attention as a high schooler in Philadelphia's Overbrook High School, and appeared to be on track as La Salle's latest back court sensation, when academics among other distractions sent him packing for the Dakota badlands, where he toiled a season. Lindsey had choices, and decided the prospect of starting at the point for the Red Storm for the next season or two (or three) might be his best career move. Achiuwa was discovered at a camp for prospecive basketballers in Nigeria coached by Erie CC head coach Alex Nwora. His numbers look very good for a big (projected as a #4, but will probably play the #5 next season), but consider the 6-9 wide body has less than three years of organized play -- one year in the US -- under his belt. Bigs take time Red Storm fans...

Blake Nash might be the latest candidate to try out as Dominiue Jones' replacement. South Florida, held to 0.97 points per possession in conference play last season (#14 in the conference), is desparate for a consistent scorer going into this season. As Jones developed the Bulls' standing in the conference improved, and his early departure at the end of the 2010 season sent the Bulls' stock plummeting again in 2011. Coach Heath really needs an offensive spark plug. Nash's success is key to Heath's survival. Coach Mick Cronin had some success with a twin tower approach to the low post last season, playing Ibrahima Thomas and Yancy Gates in tandem to control the boards and get put backs. Thomas seemed reluctant to embrace his assigned role as banger for the Bearcats, but Cheikh Mbodji, whose JUCO coach suggests is a hybrid forward, should be able to bang down low and also step out when Gates wants to work the low post. While the Bearcats also have two freshmen and a sophomore available for duty at the foward/center spots, Mbodji insures that none of them will be thrown into the deep end too early.

But What About?
6-10 center Andre Jackson who was bound for South Florida last May does not appear on the fall roster. Jackson played six games for Lee College in Texas in 2011 and averaged (in those six games...) just over 16 points per game. No idea where he will surface next. Dominique Rutledge has enrolled at West Virginia, and the 6-8 power forward orignally out of Edison Prep in New Jersey was added in the wake of Danny Jennings' transfer to Long Beach State at the end of the 2011 season. Since high school graduation in 2008, Rutledge has logged a single full season, at Hutchinson County College in Kansas, took a red shirt year at Miami Dade Community College before landing at the intake end of one of Coach Bob Huggins' JUCO pipelines. Rutledge worked out last season with Coach Jason Sautter's Western Texas College program squad while waiting for eligibility to kick in. Sautter, who coached current West Virginia guard Casey Mitchell, filled in Huggins about Rutledge, and the 225 23 year old, classified as a junior, should have two years of eligibility remaining.

Hits and Misses...Last Season's Transfer/JUCOs
Coach Buzz Williams hit another one out of the park with Jae Crowder. The forward stepped into Lazar Hayward's spot in the lineup and despite a few rough patches, he (along with work-in-progress low post players Chris Otule and Davante Gardener) provided a solid front court that helped the Warrors run to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in the Williams Era. Hugh Robertson started 31 of South Florida's 33 games, logging the second highest number of minutes played on the squad last season. He competed with fellow JUCOs Jawanza Poland and Shedrick Haynes (& four others) for playing time and shots in the USF back court. Robertson's offense, plagued by poor shooting, reduced him to Role Player-level in the Bulls' offense. Poland too was plagued by inconsistent shooting, but unlike Robertson who stapped back, Poland continued to fire away. Coach Heath put Poland, Robertson and two other guards, Anthony Crater and Shaun Noriega in a revolving rotation in an effort to find the hot shooter (or shooters) on any given night. Haynes packed his bags and along with sophomore guard Mike Burwell, became the latest in a growing list of players who left Coach Stan Heath's program with eligibility remaining. Haynes landed at Division 2 power Tarleton College, where he will finish his career in 2012. Ron Anderson logged 55.5% of the playing time in a front court rotation that included Gus Gilchrist and Francis Tarlyn Fitzpatrick and Jarrid Famous. Though his offensive rating declined slightly from his Kansas State days, Anderson's role did grow to a high-end Role Player. Scott Martin averaged 30 minutes per game while appearing (and starting) in 33 of Notre Dame's 34 games last season. The 6-8 forward averaged just under 10 points per game as well, three point shooting his greatest vulnerability. A very versatile player in Coach Kevin Willard's offense, Eniel Polynice, managed to play positions #1 through #4 on offense and defense at some point last season. The fifth year senior had shooting problems all season however, and was generally the fourth option on offense through much of the season. A preseason injury sidelines Rutgers guard Tyree Graham, while fifth year senior Roburt Sallie never made it to the Louisville campus (and into a Cardinal game). Sallie ran afoul of the "no comparable Masters Program" clause in the transfer rule, and was not cleared to play for Coach Pitino's team.

2012 (To) Watch Lists
Rising Seniors to Watch
Rising Juniors to Watch
Rising Sophomores to Watch

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