The signs remain hidden among the cloud of spring recruiting. The clues don’t jump off the page, but with a longer lens, you’ll find them.
Something isn’t right within the Wyoming men’s basketball program. Signing day came and went Wednesday, and while the incoming class — consisting of four players — has plenty of potential, the departures sit as the more concerning headline.
Since the end of the regular season, four players have elected to transfer out of UW — Andrew Moemeka, Brodricks Jones, Anthony Mack and Cody Kelley.
Transferring has become woven into the fabric of college basketball. Whether you’re a blue-blood program like Duke or Kansas or a middling no-name college like DePaul or Mississippi State, transferring happens.
Some of the Wyoming defections I’m not shedding a tear over.
A player like Brodricks Jones, who didn’t play five meaningful minutes all season, I’d personally drive to Laramie Regional Airport and watch him fade into the blue Wyoming sky if it meant having his scholarship available.
Moemeka, who redshirted, came off the bench and didn’t really show much of anything in his two years of actual floor time, and I’ll tip my cap to him and bid him farewell.
Now, the other two transfers, Mack and especially Kelley, have me worried and irked.
Mack was a decorated New Jersey high school recruit that chose Wyoming over Big East schools, including defending national champion Villanova. He never played a second for the Pokes as he sustained a bad concussion, which drove him to use a redshirt year. So I never really knew what Mack had in store within the collegiate basketball realm, but judging by his potential suitors, I’m a little peaved he’s leaving.
On the other hand, with Kelley I knew his capabilities and, for the most part, was happy with his contributions to the team. The Gillette native transferring out of Laramie shows a deeper-seeded epidemic within the UW basketball program.
As a kid, Kelley likely grew up dreaming of one day suiting up in the brown and gold. He came to Wyoming, after a year of prep school in Florida, as a walk-on when he could have chased scholarship opportunities at lower Division I schools.
The little 5-foot-11 guard defied the odds and earned a starting spot — beating out a Washington State transfer — in 23 of the 33 games this past season and averaged 5.2 points per game.
Kelley embodied everything you want out of a student-athlete. He scrapped, clawed and worked for every inch he gained at UW. He was the smallest, least-talented guy on UW’s roster and carved out a starting role on a team that was vying for a first-round MWC Tournament bye during the last week of the regular season.
Why would a guy that put in all that work and saw the fruits of his labor elect to transfer from his dream school?
I think Kelley is just a smart kid — well, obviously; he graduated in three years — and he saw water coming over the ship’s edge and wisely bailed. I think Kelley resembled a large flock of birds in a mass hysteria minutes before a big storm hits. I think he had a sixth sense and decided playing at his dream college — where he had a starting job and where he was beloved and given the nickname ‘The Governor’ by the national media — wasn’t worth what was coming.
Now, perhaps Kelley truly does want to seek other academic endeavors outside of his home state — I’m just not buying it.
The transfer bug bites most teams every season, and UW is no different. I’m just not overly thrilled with the players that decided to transfer and what those defections indicate about the health of the UW basketball program.