Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

November 5, 2009

The readers speak! Best transfers, ctd.

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 1:42 pm

On Tuesday I noted that Luke Winn had written a briskly informative piece at SI.com on Kansas State, one that touted the Wildcats for relatively big things in ’10 in part because they’ll have the services of Connecticut transfer Curtis Kelly. That intrigued me, so I threw the floor open for reader nominations:

Among players who have left a program due to a lack of playing time (as opposed to someone like Syracuse‘s insatiable and shot-hoarding Wesley Johnson, who left Iowa State for reasons wholly unrelated to PT), who has had the biggest impact on their new program over the past decade? 

The readers have spoken! Fact: You’ll forgive Northwestern fans if they’re highly skeptical of the words “Big-name big man from big program who’s going to change everything with a wave of his hand.” Take it away, alert reader Dan C.!

I don’t have an answer for you on who the most effective transfer has been, but I certainly know who wasn’t. You may remember the talk flying around Northwestern a while back that Kentucky transfer Bernard Cote and Duke transfer Michael Thompson were going to be our saviors. Turned out there was probably a good reason they didn’t get any PT at their former schoools.

Which by the way is confusing because of course NU has a “Michael Thompson” in the lineup nowadays who is a different human entirely. (Kind of like Penn State and their apparent mandate to annually play someone named “David Jackson.”) Anyway Thompson the Elder was a 2002 McDonald’s All-American, so, yeah, for what it’s worth he arrived in Evanston with even more cred than Kelly is currently bringing to Manhattan, Kansas. 

As for Cote my memory’s slipped a bit since I upgraded to the new Rascal, but didn’t he have an unspeakably hot girlfriend who was Miss Something or Other? If “yes,” he is praiseworthy. I’ll cook up a suitably scary looking stat with an acronym if I have to in order to justify said praise. 

But wait! Dan C. isn’t finished with his analysis of players who transferred to Northwestern:

Tim Doyle, on the other hand, well, he at least provided entertainment.

I had forgotten that Long Island product Doyle started his career under Mike Jarvis at St. John’s in 2002-03. Not only that, I think Dan may have been a little stingy with the praise here. In addition to supplying top-notch entertainment, Doyle made honorable mention All-Big Ten as a senior in 2007. (I once praised Mike Conley as being “a lot like Tim Doyle, only talented.”) So let’s put a pin in Doyle, a player who averaged just six minutes a game with the Johnnies but went on to grow up real good with the ‘Cats.

Next up, alert reader Devin S.!

Micah Downs transferred from Kansas to Gonzaga. And Drew Lavender transferred from Oklahoma to Xavier.

Good ones! In 2005-06 Downs took a long and sobering look at a Jayhawk roster that was fairly bulging at the seams and left Lawrence after 13 games, having averaged 12 minutes per contest. Fast-forward to what Ken Burns would call The Spokane Years and we find that Downs wore his hair defiantly and rakishly un-floppy while functioning as an exceptionally trusty if diffident wing in support of Austin Daye, Josh Heytvelt, and Jeremy Pargo.

Lavender, on the other hand, is a little more problematic for our purposes. The onetime McDonald’s All-American started 31 games in Norman as a freshman and 28 games as a sophomore for Kelvin Sampson before deciding to pack his bags for Cincinnati. If Curtis Kelly had seen that much of the floor with UConn in 2007-08 he would almost certainly still be plying his trade in Storrs. Verdict: Nod with keen interest toward Lavender, but put a pin in Downs.

Last epistle, courtesy of the notably enigmatic and tight-lipped “SM”:

David Padgett comes to mind as a helpful transfer (Kansas to Louisville).

Padgett would indeed be the example to end all examples if he qualifies. The big guy was the quartz movement in the Cardinals’ offense in 2007-08. When he went down with what appeared to be a season-ending knee injury in November of 2007, it seemed all hope was lost for the ‘Ville. Instead Padgett got busy channeling his inner Willis Reed and returned to action in time for New Year’s. He was a huge part of a great team, one that made it to the Elite Eight before falling to North Carolina. Clearly this is no mere Downs or Doyle that we’re talking about.

The question is whether Padgett meets our stringent criteria. My sense is that he does not: It says here he started 19 games for the Jayhawks in 2003-04, which, of course, was Bill Self‘s first year at the helm in Lawrence. Keep in mind some wholly un-Kelly-like factors here. Padgett committed to KU at a time when Roy Williams was still there and maybe he found he didn’t like having a coach who doesn’t say “dadgum.” (Pitino has said it a lot in 2009.) So Padgett looks to me like an apple to Kelly’s orange but, hey, I’m open to persuasion. David, if you’re reading along from Spain, this would be a good topic for an upcoming post in that engaging and oddly calming blog you update from time to time. Thanks!    

Conclusion for now: The category of “big man who transferred due to a lack of playing time and had a big impact for his new team in the aughts” is wide open. Curtis Kelly can create a new paradigm with a big or even decent year at Kansas State in 2009-10.   

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