Transfers are a part of D-I college basketball. Every year, several hundred players change schools for a variety of reasons. Some want to live closer to home, perhaps to be near a child or an aging relative. Others graduate and change programs, or switch schools after a coaching change. Some players transfer for more playing time, or want to move up to a major conference to get more exposure.
Like any other year, there have been a number of transfers this spring in the Big 12. As we have learned in previous seasons, player transfers can have a significant effect on the Big 12 race, so they are worth taking a look at. For example, consider the impact of DeAndre Kane at Iowa State last season.
Each spring, reporter Jeff Goodman puts together an comprehensive list of transfers in D-I basketball, which he updates throughout the summer. I recently went through that list to track all of the player movement in and out of the Big 12.
Leaving: Naadir Tharpe (6-1, PG, Jr.), Andrew White III (6-6, G, Soph.)
Naadir Tharpe leaving Kansas to be closer to his daughter is big news. While Kansas fans generally have a love-hate relationship with their point guards, Tharpe was effective as a junior, running the Kansas offense while knocking down 38 percent of his threes. Frank Mason will take Tharpe's place under the microscope; the only thing certain is that he, like most of his predecessors, won't be good enough for the people in Lawrence.
Andrew White is also transferring away from Kansas, after being told by coach Bill Self that "it would be questionable to break into the rotation."
Leaving: Je'lon Hornbeack (6-4, G, Soph.)
Coming: TaShawn Thomas -- Houston (6-8, F, Jr.)
Hornbeack was a part of a well-regarded Sooner recruiting class that included Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins. After spending his freshman year in the starting lineup, Hornbeack saw his minutes decline somewhat as a sophomore. Now he is transferring to Monmouth University in search of more playing time.
While coach Lon Kruger is saying goodbye to Hornbeack, he brings in TaShawn Thomas from Houston. Thomas is likely to have an impact in the Sooner frontcourt as soon as he is eligible to play, which could be as early as this season if his request for a waiver is granted. Thomas is a rim protector and a rebounder who is also able to score near the basket. He is a perfect fit for the undersized Sooners.
Leaving: Percy Gibson (6-9, C, Jr.),Bubu Palo (6-1, G, Sr.)
Coming: Hallice Cooke -- Oregon State (6-3, G, Fr.), Bryce Dejean-Jones -- UNLV (6-5, SG, Jr.), Jameel McKay -- Marquette (6-8, F, Jr.)
No team in the Big 12 works the transfer system as hard as Iowa State.
After averaging more than ten minutes a game during his freshman and sophomore seasons, Percy Gibson saw his minutes drop as a junior. Meanwhile, Bubu Palo had a turbulent time in Ames, eventually being ruled ineligible by university president Steven Leath.
Several new players come in to take their place. The biggest get for Fred Hoiberg is graduate transfer Dejean-Jones. UNLV's leading scorer last season, the talented 6-5 guard is a dynamic player with the ball. Dejean-Jones was productive at UNLV last season, and we can expect he will be even more effective this year when Hoiberg spaces the floor for him and gets him to limit his mid-range attempts. Let's just jump to the most logical conclusion, based on what Iowa State transfers have done in the past, and pencil in Dejean-Jones' on the Big 12 All-Conference team right now.
Jameel McKay will be eligible in December. A two time NJCAA All-American, McKay transferred out of Marquette without ever playing a game. He can contribute along the Cyclone front line as soon as he is eligible.
After playing for the President's brother-in-law, Hallice Cooke now will hoop for the mayor. But that won't happen for another season.
Coming: Shaquille Cleare -- Maryland (6-9, C, Soph.)
Shaq Cleare sits out this season for Texas, but will be eligible in the fall of 2015.
Leaving: Eron Harris (6-2, G, So., West Virginia), Terry Henderson (6-4, G, Soph.)
West Virginia was hurt hard by transfers, losing two of its best players. Harris is among the best transfers in all of college basketball; the sharp-shooting sophomore hit 42 percent of his 211 threes last season. The loss of Harris damages one of the better offenses in the Big 12.
The Henderson loss also hurts the Mountaineers. Like Harris, Henderson is lethal from long distance, and was expected to be a key part of the WVU attack again in the coming season. Making matters worse, Remi Dibo intends to leave the program, and chose to pursue a professional career in France.
A number of players have transferred out of West Virginia over the past several seasons. Five players transferred out of the program in 2013 without a degree, while Aaric Murray graduated and used his final year of eligibility at Texas Southern. One player transferred in 2012, while two chose to leave in 2011.
That is a lot of turnover.
Leaving: Stevie Clark (5-11, G, Fr.), Kamari Murphy (6-8, F, Soph.), Brian Williams (6-5, SG, Jr.)
Coming: Anthony Hickey -- LSU (5-11, G, Jr.)
Speaking of turnover, it would be far more efficient for me to list the key Cowboys returning than it would for me to name those that have left. Le'Bryan Nash intends to return for his senior season, as does Phil Forte. Michael Cobbins hopes to start workouts with the team in July after missing much of last season with a torn Achilles' tendon.
Travis Ford was able to add a good player in Anthony Hickey, a three year starter from LSU who will be eligible to play right away. Hickey was granted a waiver from the normal requirement to sit out under the so-called "run off" rule. Hickey was told by LSU coach Johnny Jones that he would not be brought back to play basketball at LSU next season. Thus he is eligible to play right away in Stillwater.
Leaving: Dusty Hannahs (6-4, SG, So.), Jordan Tolbert (6-7, F, Jr.)
Coaching changes are frequently accompanied by transfers. Days after Tubby Smith was announced as head coach at Texas Tech in 2013, point guard Josh Gray transferred to Odessa College. (Gray had a ridiculous season in junior college, leading the nation scoring 33.8 points per game. He is headed to LSU this fall.)
Following Gray out the door a season later are Hannahs and Tolbert. This is going to make things tougher on Smith, who led one of the better turnarounds in college basketball last season, transforming Tech from a doormat to a team that was at least competitive in Big 12 games.
You never can tell just how losing players due to transfers will affect a team. A clear example of this is the 2013-2014 Texas Longhorns, who lost five good players to transfers or professional basketball prior to the season, and yet were a much improved team.
Still, in general losing good players isn't particularly helpful. In light of this, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Kansas all saw good players transfer out of their programs during the spring. These four schools are likely to have varying degrees of difficulty making up for these loses. Kansas is likely to move forward without missing a beat, while Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and particularly West Virginia will likely feel more pain.
On the positive end, Iowa State has once again used the transfer system to its advantage, picking up three good players, including one player (Dejean-Jones) who may be among the better players in the Big 12. Oklahoma also picked up a talented forward who may be able to play this season, while the Longhorns added depth with Shaq Cleare.