There is debate about whether or not college basketball’s “Transfer epidemic” is a real thing.
Many people dismiss it by saying most of the transfers are relatively anonymous athletes searching for playing time and the issue is not nearly as significant as it’s described. Others say “Man, a lot of kids are transferring.”
If you’re Gregg Marshall, transfers are a plus. If you’re Dan Muller, your view is different.
Wichita State, regardless of the answer to that question, lives on the good side of the transfer trend. The Shockers bring in talent (Gabe Blair, Malcolm Armstead, Anton Grady) and send out players who don’t develop and want more playing time.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
That changed a bit on Thursday when Daishon Smith announced his decision to transfer. Smith, a junior guard, started 12 games last season. He is the first Shocker to start a game and not finish his career at WSU since forward A.J. Hawkins. Hawkins started 29 games in 2008-09 and did not return.
WSU dodged the transfer issue longer than most programs.
Its rotation players stayed happy winning, which is not always the case, especially at Missouri Valley Conference programs. The players who didn’t play moved on and the departures of players such as Tevin Glass, James Anacreon, Ria’n Holland and Tyler Richardson didn’t change the trajectory of WSU’s success.
Smith’s departure does not change the outlook for the Shockers. They will start 2017-18 ranked in the top 10. But, it’s a small hit, depending on how WSU addresses the roster opening.
Smith wasn’t going to beat out Landry Shamet at point guard. In Marshall’s mind, Smith decided to spend his final season of eligibility at a school where more playing time is available.
Smith, however, did have a good chance to play an important part in WSU’s rotation. I saw him as the kind of player who could improve greatly before November.
We saw the physical abilities. He made 38.4 percent of his three-pointers. After WSU’s game vs. Oklahoma, Smith appeared to be the answer at point guard. While that changed in a month, that potential did exist.
He needed to clean up his ball-handling, his understanding of WSU’s schemes and his defense. That’s not unusual for a transfer.
Smith played 14.9 minutes last season (14.1 in MVC games) and could reasonably hold or increase that next season, if he improved. He turned down a chance to play regularly for a team that is expected to win games in the NCAA Tournament.
The positive from Smith’s departure is that it lessens the senior class on the roster to six. Should WSU use that scholarship, it has a chance to bring in somebody who can contribute in 2018-19 and provide continuity.
WSU’s backcourt depth is thinner. Hutchinson Community College transfer Samajae Haynes-Jones can help, but let’s remember there is no more helpful learning curve vs. Drake. The same goes for sophomore-to-be Austin Reaves and any other newcomer the Shockers might land.
Smith’s departure isn’t surprising given the landscape of college basketball. Many players transfer for many different reasons and playing time likely leads the list. Every once in awhile, even Wichita State gets hit by that reality.