The term “journey man” is now a tangible buzz phrase in college basketball. How ironic that in an atmosphere where players are presumably recruited starting in 6th and 7th grade, that those players are leaving programs after things don’t work out perfectly.
Or, in one of many shades of the college basketball transfers, many players are joining different teams after graduating. Players like Jon Hortford of Florida can play immediately if pursuing a graduate program. Hortford spent four years at Michigan, but only used up 3 years of eligibility playing. Now he is a gator boy like his older brother, Al Hortford.
To me, players like this look like people who leave the casino contemplating where to spin their final quarter. One final play on the big wheel. It has to be good though, I only have one more to play.
This blog post is dedicated to those guys. These are the college basketball player who I’ve seen perform in the past and am excited to see in their new role.
This first is Antoine Mason. Yes, I am partial because his father, Anthony Mason, was part of the New York Knicks team I grew up rooting for. But junior’s got serious game. After Doug McDermott, Antoine Mason led the nation in scoring last year for Niagara. Now he rejoins another guy who is reborn: coach Bruce Pearl. I say Mason and the Auburn Tigers finish 5th in the SEC (Kentucky, Florida, LSU, Arkansas) and entertain an invite as a bubble team.
Remember the skinny white kid who hit threes as part of Kentucky’s 2012 championship run with Anthony Davis? Yeah, his name is Kyle Wiltjer and he’s gained lots of muscle and now plays for Gonzaga.
Unlike the boys mentioned previously, Wiltjer had to wait his turn, as he admittedly left Kentucky to find a roster spot with more playing time. He joins a very talented team with Gary Bell Jr., Przemek Karnowski and Kevin Pangos. If Wiltjer can play inside-and-out, that will pose nightmarish matchups for opposing teams. As Karnowski showed in a bruising performance against Memphis last year, his size can suck many bodies into the paint. I want to see Pangos and Wiltjer spread the floor for the pure enjoyment of watching them shoot lights out.
In my research for this article, I laughed to find a full weblink dedicated to where college basketball transfers have landed. It lists them all. Click here to check it out on espn.com. I won’t get into junior college transfers, or “JuCo” guys, here because I have not studied up on my community college circuit (no shame in my game there).
Rounding out my top transfers is Kevin Ware of Georgia State and Justin Martin of SMU. Ware only averaged 1.7 points for Louisville, but showed flashes of unstoppable quickness before breaking his leg in an unforgettable broadcast moment. Now Ware becomes part of a team that will continue being the sexiest pick for a mid-major program to do damage in March. Martin is a heady combo guard that does all the things Xavier guys seem to do. He handles the ball with strength and rebounds well for a guard. Martin can be the type of glue-guy an SMU team could use, given its appeal “on paper.” SMU thinks it got snubbed from the tournament last year, but it really didn’t capitalize on its out-of-conference opportunities. I am intrigued to see what Martin can bring to this team in terms of stability.