<
>

Aaric Murray is on the road again

It's the timeless conundrum: A player is good at basketball -- good enough to change the trajectory of your season, good enough to get you to the NCAA tournament -- but less good, let's say, at things that aren't as simple as chasing down rebounds on the weak side. Maybe the player isn't a great teammate, or runs with a troublesome crew, or fails the occasional drug test. Maybe it's some combination of the three. You're a college basketball coach, and you burn to win basketball games, but you are just as obsessed with the big picture.

What do you want your players to say about your program? How much are you willing to tolerate in exchange for success? How do you run the cost-benefit analysis? Where do you draw the line?

As we saw last week, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy is spending the lion's share of his summer determining exactly where his line on Marshall Henderson should be drawn. At West Virginia, Bob Huggins just decided he'd had enough.

That's the obvious conclusion from Monday morning's announcement that forward Aaric Murray was leaving Huggins' West Virginia program after just one year at the school. Huggins announced the news without specifics, saying it was the product of a mutual agreement that Murray would be better off playing out his final year of eligibility somewhere else. More likely is the possibility -- reported by CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello -- that Murray was dismissed from the team following another brush with trouble. Before he transferred to WVU, Murray earned a reputation for prickliness at La Salle; during his 2011-12 transfer holdover year, he was arrested in charged with marijuana possession.

Whatever the issues behind it, the latest edition in Murray's rambling story makes him the fifth player to transfer out of Morgantown this offseason. Previously, guards Jabarie Hinds and Aaron Brown and forwards Keaton Miles and Volodymyr Gerun asked for their release. Of that group, only Hinds was a key contributor in WVU's 2012-13 season. Hinds -- with his high turnover rate (20.8 percent), horrendous shooting percentages (38.9 from 2, 27.6 from 3, 8), and gawd-awful offensive rating (85.5) -- was emblematic of the atrocious offense that made last season such a nightmare for Mountaineers fans. His departure is addition by subtraction.

That's a more difficult argument to make about Murray. Even as WVU struggled last season, Murray posted a 106.4 offensive rating, grabbed 23.7 percent of available defensive rebounds, and posted a tidy 8.6 percent block rate. Even were he not skilled enough to shoot 51.7 percent inside the arc -- with a solid post-up game and a reliable 15-foot jumper -- his numbers say he's a major asset on the defensive end of the floor. That's why Huggins, like a handful of other schools, was eager to take Murray on after he left La Salle, and it's why most observers pegged the Mountaineers to have a resurgent season in 2012-13.

Instead, they bricked their way to 13-19, the worst season of Huggins' career. Now Murray is leaving, but make no mistake: Those numbers will still make him a prized transfer asset at this stage of the summer and, having finished his course requirements in Morgantown, he is eligible to play right away at another school so long as he pursues a graduate degree WVU doesn't offer.

Somewhere between these sets of facts -- between Murray's performance, WVU's season, and the fact that the typically forgiving Huggins came to this "mutual agreement" -- is the line would-be suitors have to examine. Is one year of Aaric Murray worth everything that comes with it? If Huggins said no, why would another coach decide differently?