Grad transfer rule has to remain as long as we have “student”-athletes

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I can honestly say that I can go either way when it comes to the graduate transfer exemption.

For those that are unaware, the rule is simple: if an athlete completes their undergraduate degree with eligibility remaining, they can transfer to another school without being forced to sit out for a year so long as the athlete pursues an advanced degree at his new school.

The rule is the reason that Arizona was able to land former Xavier guard Mark Lyons for the 2012-2013 season, bridging the one-year gap between Josiah Turner’s dismissal from the program and Duquesne transfer TJ McConnell becoming eligible to play in 2013-2014. It is also why Kentucky was able to shore up their back court depth by adding former Wright State (by way of NC State) guard Julius Mays. Brandon Wood (Valpo to Michigan State), Sam Maniscalco (Bradley to Illinois) and Jeff Peterson (Florida State from Arkansas by way of Iowa) took advantage of the rule last season.

Like I said, I can go either way on the matter.

On the one hand, I think it is fair to allow a player that has completed his degree an opportunity to transfer without having to sit out for a season. They put in the work, they should be rewarded. On the other hand, I can see the frustration that comes with developing a player for three or four years only to see them leave the program at the peak of their collegiate career.

And while any power that a school or the NCAA has over a player’s decision to transfer bothers me, I will admit that I am not totally comfortable with the precedent being set by Mays. He enrolled at NC State, couldn’t get minutes in his first two seasons, transferred down to Wright State where he spent a year developing his skill and another year building his confidence while torching the Horizon League before ultimately transferring back up to the highest level of the sport. Three schools in five years is a little much, even for a self-proclaimed, college basketball liberal.

That said, the way the NCAA is currently designed, the grad transfer rule simply cannot be changed.

At least not until the kids that play college sports are no longer referred to as “student”-athletes.

These kids are supposed to be students first, right? They are supposed to be using their athletic talents to pay for an education that is getting more and more expensive, aren’t they? Isn’t that the ideal that the NCAA is based on? Isn’t that the entire reason that basketball and football players that are responsible for generating obscene amounts of revenue — the money that has warped the landscape of college sports in an armageddon known as realignment — have to fight tooth and nail just to get full cost of attendance scholarships? Isn’t that the entire reason that the NCAA doesn’t have to pay taxes and can call themselves a non-profit?

Well, if these athletes are “students” first, then there is no justifiable reason to block their ability to further that education. These kids aren’t just transferring and auditing ballroom dancing classes. They are pursuing advanced graduates degrees. I don’t have an advanced graduate degree. I wouldn’t mind having one, though. It probably would make my potential earnings increase, just like it could help Mark Lyons’ increase his value to an employer once his basketball career ends.

Because the whole point of his scholarship to play basketball is to prepare him to go pro in something other than sports.

Right?

Look, if the NCAA wants to change how they view these athletes, than I have no problem with eliminating the rule. If they want to pay these athletes and acknowledge the fact that the reason these kids are in school is because of how fast they can run or how high they can jump or how well they can shoot, that’s fine. Make them sign a contract that stipulates where and when they are allowed to transfer. I’m fine with that.

But barring the NCAA changing their party line, there is no justification for eliminating the graduate transfer rule.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Washington’s Thybulle returning for senior season

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Matisse Thybulle will return to Washington for his senior season after contemplating declaring for the NBA draft following a junior campaign in which he was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.

“The NBA is really enticing and it was definitely something that I seriously considered when the season was over,” Thybulle told the Seattle Times. “I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to stay and get my degree (in communications) and grow as a basketball player and take this last year to mature and fine tune everything so I can be fully prepared to take that next step when it’s time.”

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last season. He shot 44.5 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range.

“I talked to coach (Mike Hopkins) and he gave me some good advice that was honestly something that helped in the grand scheme of things,” Thybulle said. “He told me that if I do it (enter the draft), then I should be all in because that’s what I’m going to be up against is a whole bunch of guys fighting for their lives. He thought it would be a better idea for me to stay in school until I’m at that point.”

Washington is awaiting the decision of Noah Dickerson, who declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. The 6-foot-8 averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.

Koby McEwen transferring to Marquette

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Steve Wojciechowski added a significant piece to his 2019-20 team over the weekend.

Koby McEwen announced his intention to transfer to Marquette from Utah State late Sunday evening.

“I would like to thank God, my family, inner circle and all the schools/coaches that recruited me during this process!” McEwen tweeted. “With that being said, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be furthering my college career at Marquette University.”

McEwen picked the Golden Eagles over fellow finalists Creighton and Grand Canyon after he decided to transfer when the Aggies announced South Dakota coach Craig Smith was taking over the program last month. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.

After sitting out the upcoming season, McEwen will have to years of eligibility remaining. Marquette went 21-14 last season, but missed the NCAA tournament for the third time in Wojciechowski’s four years in Milwaukee.

Minnesota adds Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis

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Minnesota has added some depth for the future.

The Golden Gophers received a pledge from Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis over the weekend, giving him a guard with two seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2019-20.

Willis will sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules.

The 6-foot-4 guard played a limited role in two seasons in Nashville, never averaging more than 18. 5 minutes or 5.2 points per game. He scored in double figures in three games as a sophomore.

Willis was a top-150 prospect in the Class of 2016 coming out of Fayetteville, Ark. with offers from the likes of Tulsa, Rice and Dayton. Vandy and Minnesota were his two high-major offers.

After being ranked in the top-15, Minnesota was beset by injury and suspensions last season as they limped to the finish line in a 15-17 season that featured losses in 12 of its last 13 games.

Richard Pitino still has two available scholarships for the 2018-19 campaign.

Report: Quade Green returning to Kentucky

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John Calipari just landed a critical recruit for 2018-19, and he was already on the roster.

Quade Green, who averaged 25 minutes per game last season, is returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, his mother told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday.

Given that six Wildcat players have entered the draft (Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hami Diallo are signing with agents), getting the 6-foot point guard back for a second season is a massive deal for Calipari and Co. The Wildcats have always been at their best under Calipari with returning players as the cornerstones of the roster with talented one-and-dones providing the extra boost. Getting one such returner at the point guard position is even more critical.

Green, who came to Kentucky as a five-star recruit last year, averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and a respectable 37.1 percent from 3-point range, an area where Kentucky continually needs help.

With Green back in the fold, Kentucky will now await the decisions of PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt, who are all going through the pre-draft process without hiring agents, which will potentially allow them to return to school and bolster a Kentucky roster has the look of a top-five team.

CBT Podcast: NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline: Winners, losers and who has the most on the line?

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The NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline came and went on Sunday night, meaning there are now roughly 60 college players that have signed with an agent and another 100 or so that have declared for the draft while retaining their college eligibility. Who were the winners? Who were the losers? Who has the most on the line? Sam Vecenie of the Game Theory podcast joined Rob Dauster to talk through all of it. The rundown:

OPEN: What do NBA teams value in players these days?

10:00: Villanova has more on the line during this testing the water process than anyone

19:00: Just how important was De’Andre Hunter’s decision to return to Virginia

25:25: Gonzaga getting Rui and Killian Tillie back makes them a title favorite

32:10: Nevada has a top ten season on the line with the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline

36:15: #RANTALERT – The decision to turn pro is so much more complicated than “is he a first round pick”

48:30: Rapid fire: Maryland, Kansas, Syracuse, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan. What do they have on the line?