There’s no denying it, our hearts belong to mid-major college basketball.
But let’s be honest. We’re fans of all basketball, and the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade was as compelling as it gets. So let’s suspend reality — common on this site — and look at the trade through a mid-major lens.
Here are some trades between conference rivals that feel faintly like the massive Eastern Conference swap. And to be clear, we have no reason to believe the players or coaches mentioned here are anything but perfectly content at their current schools.
Saint Mary’s sends Emmett Naar to BYU for TJ Haws
Like Irving, Naar has had enough of living in someone else’s shadow. He’s tired of hearing about all the preseason awards Jock Landale is racking up. Tired of Landale being the reason the Gaels are a trendy pick in 2017-18. The hyper-efficient point guard believes he can lift a team by himself, so he heads to a traditional mid-major power in BYU with its 20ish
championships NCAA Tournament appearances. In return, the Cougars send a high-scoring guard that is deadly from deep and great at getting to the line to complement Landale.
South Dakota State sends Reed Tellinghuisen to South Dakota for Trey Burch-Manning
Sure, it was fun for Tellinghuisen to play with Mike Daum. Who wouldn’t love suiting up alongside a guy that can put up 51 points on a given night? But enough already with all the Daum love. The Jacks’ athletic senior forward wants to carry his own South Dakota school to the promised land. So he gets shipped to Vermillion, where he pairs with a wing in Matt Mooney that has recently taken a star turn (ahem, Gordon Hayward). The Jacks get a similar player back in Burch-Manning, whose underappreciated game should continue to work well next to Daum.
St. Bonaventure sends Matt Mobley to Rhode Island for Jared Terrell
Thomas didn’t get that big contract from the Celtics. Terrell can relate. The URI senior had a more than solid season in 2016-17, and showed up in the biggest games, scoring 20 points or more against Duke, Valparaiso and VCU. But no all-league accolades came his way. For Mobley’s part, did you know he was the A-10’s fourth-leading scorer last year? Probably not, because he plays alongside arguably the best mid-major player in the country in Jaylen Adams. So the A-10 rivals swap guards, as each hopes he can find validation in his new home.
UT-Arlington sends Erick Neal to Troy for Wesley Person
Neal was the Sun Belt’s best playmaker last season, and has dished out 6.4 assists per game over the past two years. But if you believe the press — especially that dot com mid-major press — UT Arlington is synonymous with Kevin Hervey. Where’s the respect? In an attempt to forge his own way, Neal heads to an up-and-coming team in Troy, which actually got
the #1 seed in the East Sun Belt’s NCAA Tournament slot last season. The Trojans send back a long distance gunner in Person, who has chucked up 647 three’s over his three seasons, and hit 37.9 percent of them.
Iona sends head coach Tim Cluess to Monmouth for head coach King Rice
Cluess has built a MAAC powerhouse in New Rochelle. But seven years, seven 20 or more win seasons and four NCAA tournament bids haven’t led to significant interest from other schools. Rice, on the other hand, has had less overall success in six seasons at Monmouth, but has been a hot name after racking up 55 wins over the past two years. Yet he’s never led the Hawks to the NCAA Tournament. So with the flip, both see a chance at the what the other has had. For Cluess, it’s that buzz, and for Rice, it’s that coveted ticket to March Madness.