Big 12 Media Day Basketball

“Free agency” in college basketball?

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On the heels of Antonio Barton’s transferring from Memphis to Tennessee earlier today, there are many coaches around the country that are shaking their heads. It isn’t that they find Barton, or any other player’s decision to use their final year of eligibility elsewhere, at fault, but it is the rule allowing players to transfer this late in their college career that is the crux of the problem.

Even though many of college basketball’s premier programs are the ones who benefit from this rule, Bill Self told the Lawrence Journal-World that he disagrees in principle:

“You applaud anyone that can get their degree early. I am not knocking that at all. You look at it from the big picture. If you are a mid-major and you sit (red-shirt) a guy because it’s best for his life and he graduates after four years, you have to re-recruit him just to get him to come back to your school if he’s any good at all. I think it’s a bad rule…When you get to the point you are potentially recruiting kids off other kids’ campuses, I think it’s a big-time negative situation.”

In early May, Jon Rothstein captured the situation perfectly:

Herb Sendek, Arizona State’s head coach who saw his star player Evan Gordon transfer to Indiana earlier this month where he will be eligible to play immediately, echoed Rothstein’s sentiment: “The rule in most cases is not being used as intended and is clearly adding to the widespread free agency in college basketball,” Sendek told ESPN.

Said Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan:

“I positively believe a fifth-year guy should not be able to play right away. All they’re doing is looking at curriculum, finding a program that a school doesn’t have. Are they really trying to get a master’s degree? Or is it, ‘Maybe my team isn’t as good and we lost a lot and I want to be in the NCAA Tournament next year and …’ There’s a market out there for this. You take guys through summer school and give them every academic advantage and then they graduate and then they can just go to another school.

In some cases programs greatly benefit with this rule, like we just saw earlier today with Antonio Barton transferring to Tennessee, but that doesn’t make the rule right. In other cases, it significantly hurts mid-major programs who see top players transfer to bigger programs after discovering their talents are on par with that level of basketball.

Look no further than Trey Zeigler, who spent the first two years of his college career at Central Michigan, then played his junior season at Pittsburgh after his father was fired as head coach at CMU allowing him to play immediately for Jamie Dixon, and now he’ll spend his final year at TCU. Although he will most likely be sitting out for the 2013-14 season, his playing for three different schools over the course of his career speaks to Self’s point of “recruiting kids off other kids’ campuses.”

Every transfer situation is a unique one, but when reviewing Jeff Goodman’s 2013 transfer list that features more than 400 players transferring, it suggests there needs to be a strong review of this specific transfer rule, as well as transferring from one school to another in general.

Recruiting no longer ends in high school and on the AAU circuit, it has now extended to poaching college players from other Division 1 schools.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.