Kyle Wiltjer is considering his future at UK and SEC coaches are howling about a transfer problem in college basketball.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- So Kyle Wiltjer is thinking about following Zach Price who followed Remy Abell who followed … I guess Abell followed more than 400 Division I basketball players out the door to another gymnasium since the conclusion of last season.
Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana. It can happen in any Zip Code.
Coaches see this as a problem.
Players see this as an opportunity.
I see this as inevitable.
It's primarily a big deal today because Monday was a slow news day. The Southeastern Conference scheduled a summer teleconference for its coaches so writers could gather material to use in stories for the pre-season college basketball magazines. There is a news vacuum created by the gap between the end of LeBron's Parade and the start of Blocking and Tackling.
Then Wiltjer upgraded the story by saying he was considering leaving the University of Kentucky after two seasons. His dilemma is not complicated:
Stay at UK, accept less playing time and try to win a second NCAA title with John Calipari's latest five of 5-stars or leave, pursue more clock and hope to be a factor on a team that does something in March. Wiltjer's chances of becoming a professional will be the same either way. Teams have had a file on him for four years.
Yes, there are too many transfers in Division I college basketball, more than 400 at last count. No, I do not consider it a problem shaking the foundation of the game.
College basketball has a familiarity problem. Even committed fans must labor to stay familiar with the rosters of their favorite teams. Keeping track of the players of their favorite opponents? Hopeless.
Transfers do not cause that. This is created by the stream of guys headed to pro basketball after one or two dribbles. Guys are saying goodbye just when fans are learning how to say hello.
Try naming the Top 10 returning players in the nation next season. I said returning. No freshmen allowed.
Russ Smith. Doug McDermott. Mitch McGary. Gary Harris. Marcus Smart.
Stuck? Me, too.
Continuity has taken a beating. Guys who score a lot leave. Guys who score a little leave, too. Senior Night has become a lonely time in many programs.
But I don't blame the players. Not when they've seen coaches bolt for the next opportunity as soon as they can win one NCAA Tournament game. Not when they've been conditioned to jump to another team or school as soon as they hit a patch of turbulence during the AAU or high school careers.
Welcome to 2013. This isn't news. This is the way it is, players looking out for their best interests and families, too.
The days are nearly over of guys sitting patiently on the bench, accepting the truth that their recruiting ranking was overblown and that they're not going to play as much as they suspected.
I say nearly over because Jon Hood persevered through injuries at Kentucky. Stephen Van Treese could have bolted Louisville. He was actually pushed out for a few weeks. But he stayed, knowing he'd likely be exactly what he was – an 11 minutes per night guy.
I'm certain Derek Elston or Tom Pritchard could have left Indiana in pursuit of minutes. Instead they stayed at IU in pursuit of something more important – their degrees.
So when coaches such as Anthony Grant of Alabama say the transfer situation in college basketball is an "alarming trend," or Mike Anderson of Arkansas howls that it's something "that's got to be dealt with," I understand why they say it.
Each has been stung by losing a player expected to be part of his playing rotation next season. For Alabama, that's Trevor Lacey, who bolted for North Carolina State (and former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried). For Arkansas, Hunter Mickelson departed for Kansas, a school that had recruited him in high school.
But players see the game the way coaches see it. Grant left VCU for Alabama as quickly as the Crimson Tide called. He was at VCU three years. Anderson has changed jobs twice since 2006. He gave UAB four seasons and Missouri five.
Is that something that's got to be dealt with, too, coaches?
I didn't think so. Neither is the current trend of players changing schools.