New Small School Trend Legit?
Posted by Tommy on September 26, 2008
As the hot summer days transition to cool fall evenings, the college football season is heating up and controlling the collegiate sports world. But to the liking of college basketball fans, the basketball season is slowly creeping up. In the little basketball news there has been, an interesting trend has been developing that I think should be brought to the attention of college basketball fans. As my colleague Zach pointed out in his quick recruiting article, big-time recruits like Rashanti Harris have opted to attend smaller schools like Georgia State. In addition to stud freshmen recruits attending smaller schools like Georgia State, Akron and Fresno State, Kyle Whelliston wrote a fascinating article documenting the increased amount of transfers flocking from larger major-conference schools to smaller schools. According to Whelliston, “there will be over 50 “trickle-down transfers” becoming eligible in the 2008-09 season” who will make a huge impact on the quality of their respective teams. The most extreme case is 7-foot junior Jonathon Huffman who decided to follow an assistant coach whom he developed a relationship with from Louisville to Iona. Yes, the Iona who won just 3 games two seasons ago.
This interesting trend is definitely worth keeping an eye on for the next couple of years to see whether mid-major programs keep landing big-time freshmen and transfers or this is just an anomaly. In my opinion, the trend is great for college basketball and I think its continuation for the coming years is a good possibility. Yeah, there are advantages to going to a top-notch program like Louisville: you get to appear on ESPN every Saturday in front of thousands of raving fans as well as millions of college basketball fans, and not to mention members of the media and NBA scouts, but some players can’t perform under that kind of pressure. At a school like Georgia State, a player can avoid the pressure the media provides and focus on basketball and a little less on schoolwork all while putting up huge numbers. Also, as my colleague pointed out, it worked for guys like Courtney Lee and Jason Thompson who got plenty of minutes and in turn, plenty of exposure at their small schools of Western Kentucky and Rider. So if players with that kind of talent like Huffman and the other transfers/big-time recruits, keep succeeding in getting their name in NBA Draft talks, I think this trend will become more popular.
As for the effects on college basketball, it’s great to see the level of play improve for these mid-major and low-major schools. A lot of these players were getting less than five minutes per game for their major schools, and those minutes were probably mostly in non-conference blowouts. Now that these players have transferred, they can display their talent by playing a large part of every game and putting up big numbers. If this trend does in fact continue, we could see more and more mid-major teams making noise during march madness like Stephen Curry and Davidson. For this season, it will be interesting to see how the change of scenery will play out for these transfers and whether we see more major conference bench players decide to come to smaller schools.