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Tough to figure when starters transfer


July 5, 2005
Sometimes it blows my mind when I hear about college basketball players who are starters but who decide to transfer.

It's unbelievable when a starter decides to leave a program. Every coach wants to win. Every coach I know will use players the coach thinks can help the team get to the winner's circle.

I feel that if a player leaves with the blessing of his coach, he should be eligible immediately at his new school.
It's understandable when a guy isn't getting much playing time and opts to go elsewhere. Players should believe they're good enough to be on the court. But why would a starter decide to leave?

Recently, several transactions jumped out at me.

Dameon Mason decided to leave Marquette, where he had a world of potential, for LSU. Down the line, he could have been a vital part of coach Tom Crean's plans at Marquette.

Mississippi State's Gary Ervin certainly showed flashes of potential with the Bulldogs. He wanted to move on, deciding that sitting out a year would be worthwhile to his future. Ervin went to Arkansas, staying in the SEC as Mississippi State allowed his transfer to go through.

Sitting out a year can hamper your development in the long term. Some players don't adjust well after that time away from the court.

Drew Lavender decided to leave coach Kelvin Sampson's program at Oklahoma, and he's heading to Xavier. He was a catalyst and a key part of the Sooners' offensive and defensive schemes.

Toney Douglas also has decided to transfer, from Auburn to Florida State. It's a shame he didn't work things out with coach Jeff Lebo. Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton will be happy to add such a talented guard to his program.

The bottom line is that these student-athletes have to sit out a year, and that gets me worked up, too ... because coaches can move on to new schools and get new contracts (and country club memberships), but they're eligible to work the sidelines right away. So it seems unfair that players have to sit out a year for transferring.

There is something wrong with that equation. I feel that if a player leaves with the blessing of his coach, he should be eligible immediately at his new school.

It all makes me wonder, but it makes for great debates about college basketball, baby!

Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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