As the old joke goes, will the last person leaving Kimmel Arena please turn out the lights?
In the aftermath of a record-setting season and further evidence that UNC Asheville men’s basketball program is the best in the Big South Conference and a consistent mid-major threat, a mass exodus has left Bulldog fans wondering what’s still standing after Hurricane Transfer blew through.
First, coach Nick McDevitt left after winning 98 games in five years and posting 20-win seasons for three straight years for the first time in the history of the program.
Right behind him in the one-way turnstile out of Asheville – we assume – is the program’s best remaining player, sophomore guard MaCio Teague.
An all-conference guard and the team’s leading scorer last season (16.3 points per game), Teague asked for and received his release, allowing him to transfer.
He said earlier this week he hadn’t decided if he was leaving, but let’s face it – when coaches from Xavier, Louisville, Virginia and Baylor come to visit you on four consecutive days, your bags are likely packed.
The latest to bid adieu is Asheville’s second-best returning player, promising sophomore Jonathan Baehre. Our last glimpse of the 6-8 forward was a breakout game against Southern Cal in the NIT – 28 points and 12 rebounds.
Now he is headed to Clemson as a transfer, according to several published reports.
With three talented seniors already gone, Teague and Baehre provided a promising core of returnees for new coach Mike Morrell.
But that enviable job the former Texas assistant agreed to just a week or so ago suddenly looks very different.
Instead of a retool, Morrell is now looking at a total rebuild.
A couple of role players who came off the bench only for foul trouble or to spell starters for a quick rest are all that remains of a conference championship team.
At his introductory press conference earlier this week, Morrell said he was working on maintaining the commitment of two freshmen signees – 6-7 wings Anthony Crump and Coty Jude.
Assuming Teague joins Baehre as ex-Bulldogs, that will make six talented players that have left the Asheville program over the past five years to transfer to bigger Division I schools.
DI transfers are taking place at an alarming rate all over the country, but when did Asheville become a Double A farm team for the ACC, Big East and Pac 12?
It’s like somebody put a “For Sale” sign inside Kimmel Arena and all DI coaches are invited to come in, browse around and take the picks of the litter.
It’s gotten to the point where every time a young Bulldog has a quality game, the first question is, ‘When are you going to transfer?’
Morrell was out recruiting Friday and not available for comment.
One of his calling cards was being named the top recruiter under age 35 in the country three years ago by ESPN.
UNC Asheville fans hope he is, because his job – just 10 days in – is suddenly a lot harder than when he agreed to terms.
And if he can find quality talent, maybe he can figure out a way to convince them to stay.
This is the opinion of freelance writer Keith Jarrett. Contact him at email@example.com?