Transfers show their value

Miami Stuns Florida (1:11)

Angel Rodriguez had 24 points to lead Miami (Fla.) to a 69-67 win over the Gators. (1:11)

It has been called an epidemic.

Players come and players go. They transfer. Players find loopholes, such as hardship waivers, which the NCAA intends to banish. These guards ain't loyal, they say.

If you listen to coaches -- coaches who switch jobs without hesitation -- they'll tell you this new brand of collegiate athlete will leave campus as soon as adversity hits. They run.

Maybe that's true. But sometimes they're running because they're searching for -- as Biggie Smalls once preached -- one more chance. And what's wrong with that?

Back in Manhattan, Kansas, Angel Rodriguez got homesick. He wanted to be closer to his family in Puerto Rico. Like any son, he missed his mother. So he left the Midwest and joined Jim Larranaga's Miami squad. He sat out a year and returned to the floor this season.

You see what he did? His Hurricanes were down by as much as 15 points against a top-10 Florida team Monday night. Rodriguez willed them back into the game. With 16 seconds to play, he hit a dramatic, go-ahead 3-pointer in traffic in a 69-67 come-from-behind, upset win over No. 8 Florida that snapped the Gators' 33-game home win streak.

The epidemic or the cure?

Remember Kyle Wiltjer? Man, Wiltjer had so much juice he earned McDonald's All-American honors following an outstanding career at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon. Then he went to Kentucky, where All-Americans come off the bench. He realized he could shine elsewhere, and John Calipari agreed.

So he went West to Spokane. On Monday, he finished with 10 points (4-for-10), 5 rebounds and 3 assists in No. 13 Gonzaga's 72-56 victory over No. 22 SMU. The 6-foot-10 forward's tools make him the perfect component in Gonzaga's pick-and-pop scenarios. He's a dilemma for any opponent.

Sheldon McClellan (Texas) had 9 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in Miami's win over Florida. Byron Wesley (USC) added 4 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in Gonzaga's win over SMU.

The solution or the problem?

Some of these transfers warrant scrutiny. Some of them are just bouncing around, from school to school, carrying their red flags to the programs of any enabling coaches who'll have them. There's always someone willing to take on a bad seed if it leads to wins.

There are also situations involving selfish kids who just want buckets. They won't settle until they find a squad that will let them shoot -- often. That casual maneuvering does not help the game or the individuals, so the NCAA and coaches have a right to be agitated.

But don't put Wiltjer and Rodriguez in that pool. They wanted better situations, and their respective reasons were sound.

Now, Rodriguez could help Miami surpass modest expectations for a squad that added 10 players this season. Wiltjer might be the key piece in Gonzaga's first national championship quest.

They're both vital. They were just looking for another chance, and they found one. There's nothing wrong with that.

They're not, however, the only transfers who could change their respective programs. These guys matter, too:


Bryce Dejean-Jones (Iowa State): In the No. 14 Cyclones' 81-58 win over Georgia State on Monday night, Dejean-Jones, a transfer from UNLV, dropped 15 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. With Jameel McKay joining the mix after first semester, Iowa State will boast one of the nation's strongest frontcourts. If Fred Hoiberg gets this production from Dejean-Jones throughout the year, the Cyclones will fight for the Big 12 title, and they might make a run to Indy.

Trevor Lacey (NC State) -- The Alabama transfer is averaging 19.0 points per game through two games with the Wolfpack. T.J. Warren is gone, so Mark Gottfried needs someone to fill that offensive void, and Lacey can do that. He and Cat Barber will form one of the best tandems in the ACC. If Lacey can't produce each night, the Wolfpack will find itself at the bottom of the league.

TaShawn Thomas (Oklahoma) -- Yes, the Sooners are a fine team without the transfer from Houston. Lon Kruger returned four starters from the past season's squad. But the Big 12 -- and the nation -- is stacked with tough frontcourts. You're not going through Kansas or Iowa State or Kentucky or Arizona without some muscle inside. Thomas gives Kruger's squad some additional size and skill in the paint. He's a monster (15.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg for Houston last season) and might be the key to Oklahoma's season.