All the way back at Big 12 media day, the assembled masses asked Kansas Jayhawks coach Bill Self what he thought of the apparently increasing number of players who transfer early in their college careers because of dissatisfaction with playing time. I'm paraphrasing here, but Self blamed modern society at large -- kids these days with their spoiled attitudes and short attention spans, basically -- and how that attitude spills over into a basketball culture where coaches, fans and recruiters relentlessly coddle top players.
Whether that's true or not -- and it's hard to believe this generation of teenagers is more spoiled now than they were in the past, though if I see another 10-year-old texting on his iPhone I'm going to lose my mind -- is an argument for another day. Anecdotally, at least, the Marquette Golden Eagles are feeling this trend acutely. For the second straight season, Marquette coach Buzz Williams has seen a freshman angry about playing time transfer before his team even made it to Big East play.
Last year, it was Jeronne Maymon. This year, it's guard Reggie Smith, who has started at point guard in five of the eight games in which he's played this season but has seen the majority of his minutes handed to fellow guard Junior Cadougan. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Smith failed to head back to Marquette on Christmas night, then missed a doctor's appointment and a scheduled practice with the Golden Eagles. Those absences led to a meeting with Smith and his stepfather, who informed Williams that the freshman was upset with his playing time and was seeking a transfer.
So does Williams agree with Self? Is this trend -- in so far as it's a trend -- hurting Marquette and college hoops at large? Actually, Williams seems OK with it:
"It's not concerning to me," said Williams when asked if he was concerned mid-season transfers were becoming a trend. "Forty percent of the freshmen across the country are transferring. I hate that J-May left, I hate that Reggie left. I love both those kids, I love their families.
"But both of them, in essence, wanted a larger role quicker, and I think it's difficult to transition from high school to high-major and have a distinct, concentrated role that everybody completely understands."
The transfer won't cripple Marquette by any means. Smith was averaging a mere 1.4 points per game, he wasn't shooting the ball particularly well, and Marquette still has the players Williams has preferred for the majority of the season. But it does hurt Marquette's depth, and it does cause problems for any coach. After you spend so much time recruiting and landing a player, seeing him leave this early in his career has to hurt.