One of the biggest storylines over the last few years has been the extroadinary number of transfers across college basketball. In a lot of ways, it’s made the sport reflects free agency in its pro counterparts.
And things were no different for the Big South, which saw a major talent drain this summer.
According to Verbal Commits, there have been 24 transfers in the Big South since the conclusion of the 2015-16 season. In fact, Radford and Winthrop are the only teams in the 10-team conference who have not lost anyone to transfer.
Transfers typically have three options when they leave: go to a higher-caliber conference, transfer to a school on a similar level that may be a better fit, or transfer down a level or to the JUCO ranks.
Of the 24 listed Big South transfers, only two chose another mid-major school as a destination, 13 transferred “down” to a level or to JUCO, and four transferred to a Power 5 school (the remaining 5 players have not landed anywhere yet). Some transfers leave for what they believe are better situations, some leave to be closer to home, and some leave to raise their stock.
Campbell lost 3 players to transfer this season, which has been a seemingly common occurrence for the Fighting Camels in recent history. They lost both Troy Harper (Drexel) and Curtis Phillips (Tennessee Tech) to other mid-majors. Harper was a 6’1’’ guard who was Campbell’s leading scorer at 13.5 points per game. He chose Drexel over Monmouth. Phillips was a 6’5’’ forward who left the team midseason last year. The year before, he was named to the All Big South Freshman team.
Liberty loses 6’10’’ starting center Evan Maxwell to the Kansas Jayhawks. Maxwell averaged 10 points and 4.8 rebounds per game for the Flames. Liberty will be looking to replace his size and presence around the rim.
Presbyterian lost one of the better players in the conference in forward Desean Murray. Murray will be transferring to play for Auburn in the SEC. He averaged 20.2 points per game, which led the Big South last year in scoring. He also averaged 7.4 rebounds per game for the Blue Hose while gaining 1st Team All-Big South honors.
However, perhaps no team was impacted more by transfers than UNC-Asheville. In fact, the Bulldogs have lost a starter to transfer during each of the last 3 seasons. This year, they lost 5 players total and 2 players to higher majors.
Most notably, both Dylan Smith (Arizona) and Dwayne Sutton (Louisville as a walk-on) will not be suiting up for UNC-A this season after starting and leading the Bulldogs in scoring last season. Smith averaged 13.5 points per game and Sutton, the Big South Tournament MVP, averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds per game. Both were freshman starters for the Big South representative in the NCAA Tournament last season.
The Big South lost a lot of key players to other schools this offseason. Many teams will be looking for returning and incoming players to step in and fill the void left by the pursuit of greener pastures. Expect some surprises this season as players are escalated into bigger roles on their respective rosters.