After winning an NEC regular season title and advancing to the NCAA tournament, Mount St. Mary’s has become the latest exit point for players looking to transfer their way up to a bigger school.
On Monday night, it was Miles Wilson, a promising freshman guard from Baltimore who averaged 11.8 points this past season. He announced that he would be transferring out of Mount St. Mary’s, standing at 6-foot-5, is likely to garner attention from some high-major programs. Wilson followed Elijah Long, a 6-foot sophomore point guard that averaged 15.0 points and 4.4 assists this past season, out the door. Long has already taken a visit to Texas.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Redshirt sophomore Mawdo Sallah left the program and transferred to UNC Wilmington while redshirt junior Charles Glover left as well, both as grad transfers. Seldom-used Randy Miller transferred as well.
This puts Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jamion Christian in such a difficult spot. He should have been returning his top six scorers and every player that averaged more than 12 minutes this past season, half of whom were underclassmen from a team that won an NCAA tournament play-in game. Instead, he’s losing his back court of the future and only returns one player that averaged more than 7.7 points, and he stands just 5-foot-5.
This is how it works at the mid-major level these days. When you win, you can expect to lose some of your best players; per a source, the only transfer that was a surprise was Wilson. The Mount is hardly the only mid-major dealing with these same issues. Nick McDevitt at UNC Asheville lost Keith Hornsby to LSU in 2013, Andrew Rowsey to Marquette is 2015 and, last offseason, he watched leading scorer Dylan Smith transfer to Arizona and second-leading scorer Dwayne Sutton leave for Louisville after leading that group to the NCAA tournament. Rowsey was the only one of those four transfers that was not a freshman at the time.
NEC rival Robert Morris has been hit hard as well. The last three offseasons, Andy Toole has seen his leading scorer transfer out of the program. The Colonials’ success has taken a hit as a result.
It’s not going to change, either, not when every mid-major player believes they should probably be playing at a higher level, not when the chance to showcase your ability on national television every night can get you a six-figure D-League contract.
But this is a bad spot for mid-major coaches, who typically get bigger jobs when they have a run through the NCAA tournament.
At some point, maybe Athletic Directors at bigger schools will smarten-up and start targeting the coaches shuttle players up a level. Why wouldn’t you want a guy who can identify talent and mold them into better players? If they can do it at that level, shouldn’t that lead you to believe they can take borderline high-major prospects and turn them into potential NBA players?
Or is that simply asking too much of the decision-makers that prefer hiring a re-tread and pay search firms $75,000-$100,000 to do their job for them?