LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- So ends the shortest transfer in the history of college basketball. I don't even know if Stephan Van Treese had time to transfer his socks to his suitcase. I've had bus transfers that took longer.
University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino said today that Van Treese won't be packing his bags, after all. He had received his release on June 6 with the Cardinals facing a scholarship shortage and talented recruit Montrezl Harrell having just signed.
Then Rakeem Buckles left the program, thereby freeing up a scholarship, and Van Treese now has been welcomed back.
At least, that's one way of looking at it.
Another way is this: Pitino told Van Treese he hadn't played in two years, and wasn't looking at playing much this season, so he ought to transfer to NCAA Division II Bellarmine, play as much as he could, get his game and confidence back, then either transfer back to U of L or check out other options if he still wanted to try himself at the Division I level.
Van Treese did talk to Bellarmine coach Scott Davenport, but seemed set on moving to a Division I school. Once Buckles left, Pitino told Van Treese that if he were going to sit out a year, he would be better off just staying at U of L.
And so he will.
Which version is the more accurate? Well, both are completely accurate. Even before Buckles transferred, Pitino told me in an interview on another subject that he was hoping Van Treese would go to Bellarmine and not risk sitting out.
At the same time, if a scholarship weren't available, would he be back? You know that answer, and so do I.
Regardless, meet the new team, same as the old team. It's as if he was never gone. Maybe he never really was. Heck, he was spotted a week after leaving sporting Louisville gear at one nightspot in town.
But there's another side to this story now.
Expect Van Treese to have a breakout season. I'm calling it. Mark me down. I'm not quite sure what that means in terms of points and rebounds, but expect him to do more than anyone thought he would.
Pitino didn't think Russ Smith would contribute much, and he ran the point for the final six minutes of an Elite Eight victory over Florida.
He told Edgar Sosa to leave if he wasn't going to play defense. Sosa started all season.
I still remember the shortest banishment of any player in college basketball history, when Terrance Farley was kicked off the team one day, reinstated the next and starting the next.
So at this point, it's a done deal. Start the Van. Remember, the Miracle on Main against Marquette in 2011 did start with a Van Treese dunk. With 6:26 left in the game. And Van Treese comes back to U of L on 6/26? Spooky. Also not entirely accurate. The dunk was with 6:28 left. But I was on a roll. Still, you see where I'm going.
In seriousness, it's a good thing that two came back together. Pitino could've looked for another player to fill the open scholarship, or he could've kept it open. But he stayed with a guy whose playing prospects seemed less than certain to him.
And when a coach tells you you're not going to play, and hands your scholarship to someone else on your way out the door, it's not easy to turn around and go back. But a number of players under Pitino -- and other coaches -- have gone from one foot out the door to one on the gas given the chance Van Treese is getting now. Don't underestimate that motivation.
As far as transfer stories go, this one seems set up for a better ending than most.
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