Six USF players left the Dons program before their eligibility was up after the 2012 season. Players transferring out of Div. 1 programs is becoming more commonplace, but six players leaving the USF program appeared to be high even in this transfer-happy environment.
Four of last season’s transferees were reserves Avery Johnson, Khalil Murphy, Charles Standifer, and Justin Raffington, but they also included starters Mike Williams and Perris Blackwell, which added to the discomfort level among Dons fans. While playing time was inevitably one of the factors for players desiring to transfer out, PT was not an issue with Williams and Blackwell, as they received plenty of minutes and figured to again be important cogs going into the 2012 – 2013 season.
But it was not to be, and many fans wrote off the defections as a one-off event, with ready and able recruits poised to replace the outgoing talent.
Despite some talented incoming high school and Div. 1 transfers, the 2012 – 2013 season was largely disappointing, as the Dons finished 7-9 in West Coast Conference play and were unceremoniously eliminated by doormat LMU in the WCC tournament in Las Vegas.
The proverbial lightning hit twice this offseason, as four more Dons players are leaving the program. The costliest one may be De’End Parker, who was dismissed for conduct detrimental to the team. This loss is especially damaging because Parker was a local high school hero, honored as the CIF San Francisco Section Player of the Year in 2009.
Parker also led City College of San Francisco to the California Community College championship in 2011, before transferring to UCLA as a coveted recruit. Parker decided to transfer to USF last season, and was considered the centerpiece of Head Coach Rex Walter’s 2012 recruiting class.
Parker lived up to his billing early in the season, but injured his wrist mid-season, at which point his productivity tailed off, and his shooting percentages declined. His dismissal leaves a gaping hole in USF’s perimeter shooting game.
Joe Edmonds and Frank Rogers, a part-time starter, have decided to transfer out, while Dominique O’Connor has retired due to medical reasons.
All in all, 10 players leaving in two seasons is alarming, as it has a negative effect on program balance and team continuity. The Academic Progress Rate could also potentially take a hit, depending on the graduation rate of the departing players.
The causes of the high defection rates are speculative at this point, but the downward trend should cause concern. Reasons normally cited range from the aforementioned lack of playing time, unhappiness, not being the right fit, academics, homesickness, personality clashes, playing styles, and player development.
Even if USF’s coaching staff can again reload their roster, the high turnover will make building a competitive team year-after-year a difficult task, as more players must learn a new system and get acclimated with new teammates.
Whether Coach Walters can fill up his roster with talented as well as dependable players willing to play within the system will go a long way toward determining the fate of the Dons hoops program over the next few years.