SHERIDAN — Both Sheridan College basketball programs recently dipped into the transfer market to find players that will likely contribute next season. The Generals have JaVary Christmas coming in from Cloud County Community College in Kansas, and the Lady Generals will welcome Tala Tuisavura from Northwest College.
The transfer mentality within college basketball has grown significantly over the last few years. At the Division I men’s basketball four-year level, 628 players have elected to transfer so far this season. With 351 teams in Division I, that’s nearly two players per team that have decided to transfer. In 2017, 884 players transferred.
Whether it be displeasure with a current role or family issues back home or a coach getting fired, an array of reasons can factor into a student-athlete wanting to transfer.
But with so many student-athletes seeking new basketball avenues, the transfer market is something on which most every coach has his or her eye.
At the JUCO level, transferring is much more black and white than it is at the four-year level.
The only thing a junior college player needs in order to transfer is a release from its current school. If the player is able to acquire said release, he or she can look elsewhere.
But that’s not to say transferring within the junior college ranks is easy.
“To me at the JUCO level, if you transfer you’re taking a gamble,” SC women’s basketball head coach Ryan Davis said. “You’re taking a gamble that you’re going to find a place that you’re going to have a coach who is as invested as your current coach was in you because obviously they recruited you for a purpose. You don’t have two or three years like at a four year, if you transfer, to create a relationship and to find your niche. You have one year, and not only that, but you have one year to play and get re-recruited.”
To summarize, the athlete competes during his or her senior year of high school, then goes to a junior college, then decides to transfer to another junior college, and after that whole song and dance is over, the ultimate goal is to play at the four-year level … working with another head coach.
But it is imperative for a JUCO player to find the right fit — and he or she only has two years of eligibility to do so — in order to play and garner the attention of a four-year school.
“The kids, they need to be in the right situation,” SC men’s basketball head coach Matt Hammer said. “They need to be in a place where they have a chance to succeed. That’s not to say that these transfers didn’t have that at their previous place.
“We only take a transfer if we have a really good feeling they’re going to work out and pan out and be successful here.”
It has worked out for Hammer thus far in his four years at Sheridan. Two seasons ago, Hammer brought in Xavier Jackson and Elhadji Dieng from New Mexico Junior College and both contributed for the Generals. Jackson averaged 13.2 points per game and Dieng chipped in 8.8 points per contest.
It worked out for both players, as well. Jackson more than doubled his scoring average, while Dieng nearly doubled his scoring output, and both former Generals went on to the four-year level — Jackson to VCU and Dieng to Florida International.
There are a couple different ways for Davis or Hammer to find out about players on the transfer market.
The National Junior College Athletic Association website lists every player on every team and whether or not they asked for a release.
Hammer sometimes looks at NJCAA powerhouses like Indian Hills Community College and sees what players received their release and researches the player from there.
Both Davis and Hammer are active on social media, and many Twitter accounts dedicate themselves to informing junior college coaches about players seeking transfer.
Hammer utilized Twitter to eventually reel in Christmas. Hammer saw that Christmas had followed him, so Hammer looked at Christmas’ highlight film. Hammer saw on the NJCAA website that Christmas had been granted his release from Cloud County CC, so Hammer reached out to the young player.
That is just one example. Davis sees Facebook posts from high school or AAU coaches about players seeking transfer and whether or not Davis pursues those is up to him.
Both coaches also have numerous coaching contacts — high school, AAU and college — across the county that can aid in the transfer process.
The transfer landscape within college basketball has ramped up from the top down, and both Sheridan College head coaches, recently, used it to their benefit.