With the 2014/15 Division I season now well and truly over, we farewell to eleven seniors who all graduated. The remaining Australian men will be joined by a host of incoming freshman from down-under headlined by Ben Simmons, while a number of others have made the difficult decision to transfer.
Transferring out of a school is a tough choice and not one taken lightly. More often than not it is made as a direct result of a lack of playing opportunity. Six Australian men have decided to transfer, including Geremy McKay (Albany), Marley Biyendolo (Pepperdine), Matt Hancock (Lamar), Cade Towers (Nicholls State) and former team-mates Jaryd Eustace and Joshua Oswald (Miami-Ohio).
After red-shirting his freshman year with 2015 America East Champions Albany Great Danes, Geremy McKay has decided to transfer from one school with an Australian connection to another. The 6’7 forward from Victoria has signed to join 2015 Big Sky Champions Eastern Washington, a team that will feature fellow compatriots in senior forward Venky Jois, junior swingman Felix Von Hofe and incoming freshman guard Michael Wearne next season.
McKay’s transfer is an interesting one given he had already sat out last season and is now required to do so again due to NCAA transfer regulations. That will mean the talented forward will not be able to play for the Eagles until the 2016/17 season, having not played in almost 2 years.
“It’s an awesome place,” stated McKay on his new home at Eastern Washington. “It just seemed like a better fit for me personally than Albany.”
Also in a similar position is 6’9 forward Cade Towers from Queensland. The former Australian junior national team representative played sparingly for Nicholls State in just 16 games as a freshman before red-shirting the 2014/15 season. In choosing to transfer, Towers is currently exploring his options that include alternative NCAA Division I and II programs.
“Nicholls wasn’t a great fit for me,” outlined Towers on his decision to transfer. “Right now I’m just trying to figure out what my options are. I’m looking at both Division I and II schools and I am not ruling out anything.”
Marley Biyendolo is another who red-shirted his first year and then saw limited opportunities when he finally hit the court in 2014/15 for Pepperdine. The 6’3 guard from Victoria averaged just 4.9 minutes in 21 of a possible 32 games. While the transfer period has only just commenced, there is no word on what Biyendolo’s plans may be just yet.
Limited opportunities across his three years at Lamar has also seen Victoria’s Matt Hancock make the tough decision to transfer. The 6’4 guard played in 26 games – 6 as a starter – in his freshman season only to play a combined 23 games over his next 2 years. His court time reduced to 4.6 minutes per game as a junior across just 12 games and with that he is now looking for a new opportunity elsewhere.
“I’m coming home (to Australia) for the summer, however I’m definitely going back to college to finish school and keep playing,” shared Hancock on his future plans.
Two Australians on the Miami (OH) RedHawks roster have chosen to depart the program after experiencing a challenging 2014/15 season. Both 6’7 guard Jaryd Eustace and 6’7 forward Joshua Oswald are leaving the RedHawks after seeing their playing time drastically reduced from their freshman year campaigns.
Queenslander Eustace saw his playing time cut back from 18.6 minutes per game as a freshman to just 11.5 minutes as a sophomore. The reduced court time directly impacted his scoring which fell from a solid 6.7 to 3.7 points per game. Oswald’s case was even worse, having his court time reduced from 16.6 minutes in playing all 31 games – 19 as a starter – to just 6.3 minutes across just 12 games last season. It was a scenario that caused frustration for the pair who were expecting to play important roles on the team.
“I didn’t like the direction of the program basically and wanted to come home,” explained Eustace on his decision to leave Miami (OH). “I won’t be transferring anywhere either.”
“I have no regrets whatsoever as I had a great freshman year basketball-wise and I loved the college life. The basketball was becoming frustrating and I had no reason to stay. Also I didn’t want to transfer because of sitting out a year I don’t think that would be good for me.”
Both Eustace and Victorian Oswald enjoyed a great first year of college on court; their situation demonstrates just how quickly situations can change with any team. While Eustace is now exploring playing options back home in Australia, he remained unclear as to why his playing time had reduced from one year to the next leading to the decision to leave.
“I’m not really sure what it came down to that’s also why I’m leaving,” stated Eustace. “There wasn’t much communication between players and staff. Same with Josh too. I think they recruited over him and then he just lost his place. It’s a tough gig once the coaches get a fixed impression on a player and it’s hard to change it.”
Transferring is not uncommon in college sports and especially with basketball. According to NCAA Research, approximately 40% of all men’s basketball players who enter Division I leave their initial school by the end of their second year. Of that number, 39% transferred to another less competitive Division I program where playing time might increase, while 48% end up playing at Division II, Division III, NAIA or 2-year colleges. The remaining 13% on the 2014 transfer list did not return to a college basketball roster.
With the growing number of Australian’s heading over to the US to play college basketball, it has never been more important to choose a program more carefully. Given the right situation for the individual it can be a fantastic experience. However for others where things do not go according to plan, it can become a very frustrating time that may result in either leaving early or transferring schools. Nonetheless, these six young Aussies will be looking ahead for fresh starts over the next year.