College basketball players transfer for many reasons. Sometimes their coach is let go, other times they just aren't happy. In 30-40% of transfers -- depending who you ask -- the player is advised to transfer by their college coaching staff. Cumulatively, the days when college athletes were expected to spend four years at the same school are coming to an end.
However, as college basketball free-agency grows year-to-year, coaches must adjust to these new realities. As players transfer out, new players must be brought in to replace them.Depth that is lost must be replenished.
When Markus Kennedy left Villanova over the summer after spending his freshman year with the program, it left a giant hole in the front court going forward. Kennedy was a player with a big body and more experience playing in the post than incumbent center Mouph Yarou or the incoming freshman Daniel Ochefu. Next season, the only player with the size needed to play center on the roster will be Ochefu, unless Jay Wright is able to land another big man before the summer.
How did it all go down with Kennedy? According to Philly.com:
According to several sources, the Markus Kennedy transfer took a jagged path. One source said that after his freshman season at Villanova, when he played off the bench, Kennedy said he was looking to transfer to Kansas.
That apparently was unbeknownst to Kansas.
Then Kennedy decided he was going to return to Villanova. According to a source familiar with the situation, Jay Wright was all right with that but changed his mind after 'Nova players expressed misgivings about having Kennedy back after he had looked to leave.
VUhoops reached out to Kennedy for comment on Mike Jensen's story above, but he had not responded as of the time of this article's publication.
Assuming the facts above are correct, Villanova didn't need to be in its current recruiting predicament. Wright could have had Kennedy on-board for the 2013-14 season, giving him two big bodies in the low post, including at least one experienced presence. Instead, now he will have less experience and less depth than he could have had otherwise.
If it is true that Kennedy was told not to return to school because his teammates expressed misgivings, it begs the question of whether the inmates are running the asylum. Wright has experienced chemistry issues in recent years, and was perhaps a little too wary of the issues those could cause when he opted to listen to his players on whether or not Kennedy should return.
Inserting a player back into the rotation when he doesn't have the support of his teammates could be an issue. The angst caused by conflict in the locker room can translate into poor performance on the court, potentially.
Is that necessarily the case?
Couldn't strong leadership encourage the athletes to act more professional than that about these decisions? Wouldn't they understand that the need for depth and experience on the roster far outweighs any other misgivings?
Villanova desperately needs depth in the post going into next season, and apparently they had some depth available if Kennedy was interested in backtracking on his initial interest in transferring. Whether his initial transfer declaration was off-putting to his teammates or not, the needs of the program should have come before the personal feelings of any teammates.
Now, Jay Wright is scrambling to find another 2013 big man. He missed on Austin Colbert and Tyler Roberson recently and Gavin Schilling would appear to be a long shot as well. The 'Cats are now looking to take a rare dip into the Junior College talent pool, going after Iowa Western's Daouda Soumaoro this fall. If the 'Cats don't land another true post player in the 2013 class, they will have to field a team next season that has dramatically-less size than any team in the Jay Wright era.
Did it really need to be this way?