We are all familiar now with the 'C-USA as a crossroads' narrative. Color commentators use this narrative when calling games involving formerly big-name coaches who try to rebuild their careers coaching in C-USA (i.e. Larry Eustachy, Tim Floyd). What has recently become a trend in the new collegiate athletic landscape is that C-USA and other conferences like it have become 'crossroads' for players as well. Every year there is a growing list of star players who realize they have the talent to compete in a Big 6 conference and decide to transfer to a big time school.
In my opinion, this is probably the biggest challenge C-USA faces in ascending to a multiple-bid league. 10 years ago, Nevada, UTEP and Louisiana Tech hit homeruns in recruiting sleepers like Nick Fazekas, Paul Millsap, and Omar Thomas and were able to develop those guys over years. Nowadays a mid-major school is lucky to keep its surprise players once the players realize they can jump to a bigger stage. We need look no further than last year's list of out-transfers to see the negative impact on C-USA: Imagine the battle for Player of the Year Award in C-USA if Josh Davis hadn't left Tulane for San Diego State and DeAndre Kane hadn't left Marshall for Iowa State.
This upcoming year will see C-USA take some more hits in the talent department. Of the three major candidates for last year's C-USA Freshman of the Year Award, only one is returning to play basketball for his team (luckily for us Miner fans, it's our own Vince Hunter who is staying put). Anyone who dreamed of seeing Sean Obi and Kareem Canty develop into formidable rivals, and for Rice and Marshall to be contenders within the next few years will have those hopes dash. The complete list of out-transfers is as follows:
|Player Name||Position||FROM||TO||Eligible in 2014-2015|
|Aaron Adeoye||F||Western Kentucky||SE Missouri State||Yes|
|Dmitri Batten||G||Old Dominion||Boston College||No|
|Drew Bender||G||Rice||Northern Colorado||No|
|Marcus Bryan||F||Charlotte||UNC Wilmington||No|
|Kareem Canty||G||Marshall||South Florida||No|
|Keith Coleman||F||North Texas||LSU Shreveport||No|
|Payton Hulsey||G||Western Kentucky||East Florida State||Yes|
|Ude Ifeanyichukwu||F||Southern Miss||Kentucky Wesleyan||No|
|Denzel Ingram||G||Charlotte||UNC Wilmington||No|
|Cedric Jenkins||G||Southern Miss||SE Louisiana||Yes|
|Isaiah Massey||F||Louisiana Tech||??||No|
|Tyler Pate||G||FAU||Blinn College||Yes|
|Ronald Ross||G||Middle Tennessee||Minnesota State||Yes|
|Daouda Soumaoro||C||Western Kentucky||Mobile||No|
|Gilbert Talbot||C||Louisiana Tech||New Orleans||No|
|Eric Wortham||F||Middle Tennessee||Shelton State||Yes|
As is usually the case, most players leave for a variety of personal reasons from returning to play closer to home to wanting more playing time. The biggest losses in the conference are clearly Rice's Sean Obi, who takes his rebounds and developing post game to Duke, Marshall's Kareem Canty who leaves for USF where he gets to play against the guards of UConn, Memphis, and Cincinnati, and Old Dominion's Dmitri Batten who is leaving for an ACC cellar dweller in Boston College. These losses are huge hits to the programs at Rice, Old Dominion, and Marshall, but a number of schools were counting on some of these players to step up. Many lose depth and continuity.
The transfer hot stove is not all bad news for C-USA, however. A number of players look at C-USA conversely as a step down from a big school where they perhaps did not see as much action as they originally thought they would.
|Player Name||Position||FROM||TO||ELIGIBLE IN 2014-2015|
|Jonathan Arledge||F||George Mason||Old Dominion||Yes|
|Hakeem Baxter||G||Maryland Eastern Shore||UAB||No|
|Egor Koulechov||G||Arizona State||Rice||No|
|Jalen Steele||G||Ole Miss||Middle Tennessee||No|
|Brandon Stith||F||East Carolina||Old Dominion||No|
Miner fans will remember the name Brandon Stith, the former ECU reserve forward who will try his luck at new C-USA school Old Dominion.
-Former Miner D'Von Campbell transferred from UTEP to Rutgers a few years ago and has decided to transfer again from Rutgers just before his senior season in a very unusual situation.
-A.J. Davis, son of Miner great Antonio Davis and former UTEP recruiting target, is transferring from Tennessee to UCF. Doesn't look like we'll see too many sons of Miner greats try to fill their daddies' or uncles' shoes at UTEP, as we've now missed on Tim Hardaway Jr., A.J. Davis, and (gulp) Isaac Hamilton.