A relatively quiet off-season for the TCU Basketball program suddenly turned rather interesting over the weekend when it was revealed that Hudson Price and Link Kabadyundi were planning to transfer away from the school. Price and Kabadyundi became the fourth and fifth players to leave the program since the end of last season. Charles Hill, Jr. previously announced that he was transferring to Tarleton State, Christian Gore left the program due to his upcoming December graduation, and Josh Brown no longer appears on the team's official roster.
With five players leaving in such a short time-frame, it begs the question, what's going on?
It is fair to argue that each of the five departures were mutually exclusive. On face value, each player that left was justified in doing so.
Charles Hill spent much of his time at TCU in Trent Johnson's doghouse. He was suspended from all team activities in early 2014 after being declared academically ineligible. In February 2015, Hill was suspended again for "conduct unbecoming of a TCU men's basketball player." At the time, it was rumored that Hill was upset over a perceived lack of playing time. During the 2014-2015 season, Hill appeared in just 14 games, where he averaged 5.3 minutes, 2.6 points, and 1.2 rebounds per game. It is hard to fault a player for wanting to transfer to a school where he can get more playing time.
Hudson Price is transferring to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to gain an once-in-a-lifetime experience: playing college basketball for his dad. Hudson's father, long-time NBA player and assistant coach Mark Price, was hired by the Charlotte 49ers earlier this summer after spending the previous nine seasons as an assistant in the NBA. Price appeared in 28 games for the Frogs a season ago, averaging 2.8 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 0.7 assists in 9.1 minutes per game. Last year, Price saw a decrease in playing time between his freshman and sophomore seasons. During his first year on campus, he appeared in 24 games, but averaged 15.4 minutes, 2.4 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per contest.
Link Kabadyundi is transitioning to the junior college level after transferring to Blinn College. The 7'1" center was set up to be one of Trent Johnson's larger building projects, after the Canadian came to TCU with zero Division I offers. Kabadyundi appeared in 16 games for the Frogs last season, averaging 4.3 minutes, 1.2 points, and 1.3 rebounds per game. Again, it is hard to fault a player that just wants to play. At the JuCo level, Kabadyundi will get the chance to improve his game on a nightly basis and maybe return to the NCAA at some point in his career.
Christian Gore is set to graduate in December with a degree in Entrepreneurial Management from the Neeley School of Business. After averaging 0.9 points, 0.5 rebounds, and 0.1 assists per game in 17 appearances last season, it is understandable that Gore wants to focus on life after graduation.
Finally, it appears thathas also left the program. Brown red-shirted last season and therefore did not see any playing time. The walk-on was a former wide receiver for the Texas A&M - Commerce Lions and experienced more success on the football field than on the basketball court in high school.
Johnson's Transfer History
In 16 seasons as a Division I head basketball coach, Trent Johnson has now seen a total of 33 players leave under his watch, including 14 that have transferred to another program. However, it is important to note that a major reason why players transfer away from or leave a program is because of a head coach leaving or being fired. In Johnson's case, more than half of the players that left under his watch were recruited by the school's previous coach. Only 14 of the 33 players that have left a Trent Johnson-coached team were recruited by Johnson himself.
- Nevada (1999-2004): 10 total players left, five of whom were recruited by Johnson, none of the 10 players transferred to another program
- Stanford (2005-2008): four total players left, one of whom was recruited by Johnson, only one player transferred to another program
- LSU (2008-2012): 10 total players left, five of whom were recruited by Johnson, seven transferred to another program (including three recruited by Johnson)
- TCU (2012-Present): nine total players left, three of whom were recruited by Johnson, six transferred to another program (including Kabadyundi and Price)
While 14 transfers in 16 seasons may seem like a lot, Trent Johnson's numbers aren't all that different from the national averages. Transfer rates in college basketball are increasing at an alarming rate. Jeff Goodman, who tracks transfers in college basketball for ESPN, found that over the last four seasons, transfer numbers are skyrocketing. According to Goodman, 445 players transferred in 2012, followed by 507 in 2013, and 687 in 2014. The number for this season continues to rise and is already well over 700. On average, 41% of incoming freshmen basketball players will transfer by the end of their sophomore year.
Transfers are becoming a way of life in college basketball. While it is somewhat alarming at TCU, the number of players transferring away is likely more indicative of a larger national trend rather than a reflection of Johnson's personality as a coach.
The recent string of departures leaves TCU's roster pretty thin heading into the 2015-2016 season. It was already going to be a tall task for this year's squad to make up for the lost production from graduating seniors Kyan Anderson, Trey Zeigler, and Amric Fields, and losing five players certainly won't make that task any easier. TCU only has eight players on their roster with Division I basketball playing experience, and only seven of those players are on scholarship.
Compared to last year, the team is losing 44.6% of all minutes played, 50.8% of all points scored, and 59.8% of all assists dished out.
The good news here is that the majority of an already strong defense is returning, and Johnson's incoming class includes some great scorers. Transfers Malique Trent (New Mexico Junior College) and Vladimir Brodziansky (Pratt Community College) each averaged over 15.0 points per game in their final seasons competing at the NJCAA level. Incoming freshmen Lyrik Shreiner and Jalon Miller each averaged over 24.0 points per game at their respective high schools. With eight players from a year ago now gone, the pressure for the incoming class to perform has heightened.
The bad news is that TCU has two scholarships this season that cannot be used. Since the signing deadline has long since passed, the school cannot add any scholarship players for the 2015-2016 season. However, the program can add walk-ons that are currently enrolled at TCU, as well as transfer players who are not receiving scholarships. In total, the Frogs will enter the 2015-2016 campaign with 11 scholarship players, second fewest in the Big 12 to Kansas State's 10.
None of the players that have left the program were vital to the team's performance. However, they did play an integral role of providing relief for the starters. They allowed the starters to catch their breath and regroup, something crucially important during the gauntlet that is Big 12 basketball. It will be difficult for Trent Johnson and his staff to replicate the experience that those five former Frogs provided, however it can be done. His team finished 18-14 with an NIT appearance at LSU in 2012 after losing five players, including four transfers, during the previous off-season. Johnson has about two months to round out his roster before the season begins on November 13 against Southeastern Louisiana.