DU Basketball Transfers - A View on Recent Hoops Departures

LetsGoDU wanted to go back and take a look at how recent DU hoops transfer players are doing with their new programs. We also wanted to gain insight into why they left and finally, the potential impact of their departure on the University of Denver basketball program.

Dom Somac - Senior Forward, DU 2012 - 2014 (2 yrs.)

After exhibition drubbings by the Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas State Wildcats, Dom Somac’s Fort Hays (KS) team is now 3-0 in non-conference games coming off a 32 point win against Central Christian and wins against Southwest Minnesota State and Sioux Falls. The team should do well with two upcoming holiday home games in Hayes, Kansas against Newman and Stirling College. When not in Hays, Kansas, the Tigers will be taking bus trips to outposts in Warrensville, Missouri, Bolliver, Missouri, and Pittsburgh, Kansas in the MIAA conference (Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics).

The Senior transfer from Zagreb, Croatia is ‘the man’ at Fort Hays State with 29 minutes per game, 17.3 points per game, with a paltry 1 assist per game average. Hardly the assist machine, ala Tony Kukoc, many of us envisioned when the 6’9” forward came to DU. Last year, his first season at Ft. Hays, he was all MIAA 3rd-team. It looks like Dom is in the ideal place for his skill set.  

Cameron Delaney - Redshirt Sophomore Guard, DU 2014-2015 (1 yr.)

Cameron Delaney transferred after last season at the University of Denver to join his brother Josh and sister Angela at Sam Houston State to play basketball for the Bearkats.

In a Sam Houston athletics article, Cam Delaney stated that he left DU to get back to his siblings in Texas. Both his brother Josh and sister Angela play basketball for the Bearkats. “When Cameron went to Denver, we both thought he was crazy and knew he would be homesick,” Angela said. “Now that he’s here, we’re focused on competing. He helps us a lot.”

Although Cameron is redshirting this season, it hasn’t stopped him from missing a beat with his lifetime teammate since the two rejoined during summer workouts. “We didn’t skip a step when we stepped on the court,” Cameron said. “We’re still on the same page. The chemistry is there. We’re just meshing together.”

And with the men and women’s games lining up back-to-back for some games in the spring, it looks to be a good deal for their parents, according to Josh. “It wasn’t planned for us three to go to the same school,” Josh said. “We totally didn’t plan it. Now our parents can come to the same area and watch us play just like in high school.”

The jury is still out on the loss of Cameron Delaney to the DU program but he did have a great all-around skill set. It is hard to hold a desire to ‘return home’ against anyone – especially a college freshmen. 

Jalen Love - Senior Point Guard, DU  2012-2015 (3 yrs.)

Newman University is 3-0 with wins over Cameron, Texas A&M (Commerce), and Pittsburgh State (KS). Love is averaging 18.5 points per game and 29 minutes on the floor with 2 assists. Hardly a fit for Denver's style of play but, perhaps, a perfect fit for Love's preferred playing style. 

November 24th, Love's team travels to Ft. Hays State and to play Somac's Tigers.

The back story on Love was published in The Wichita Eagle . While the timing is not clear, Love's transfer was a package deal when Love and Gavin Thurman (Missouri State) abandoned their teams for their senior years to transfer to Newman University. 

According to the article, Love’s exit came after a falling out with with Denver coach Joe Scott. Love and Thurman quickly determined they wanted to team up. “I knew I didn’t want to sit out a year (at a Division I school),” Love said. “So all the coaches that would call, I would put Gavin’s name out there and he was doing the same with me. I think we both knew if we were going Division II, we wanted to be close to home.”

At the conclusion of each of their Junior years, the pair of Wichitans – Denver guard Jalen Love and Missouri State forward Gavin Thurman – both announced they were transferring with one season remaining for each. And the word on both was that if they were going to go Division II, they wanted to play together. And they wanted to play close to home.

So head coach Potter and assistant coach R.J. Allen, whose father, Ron, coached Love in high school at East, went to work. “This wasn’t a done deal, or an easy deal by any means,” Potter said. “We had to go to work. And that’s where I need to point at that R.J., in this whole thing, was tremendous.”

Allen went at the task like a man on fire. “It was a huge opportunity for us to have two Wichita guys of their caliber available,” Allen said. “It was kind of an awkward deal with the timing, but the mindset was just to get them back to Wichita. I went to the phones. I used the connections with my dad and with (Heights coach) Joe Auer and with knowing the Thurman family a little bit to get the wheels turning.

“It wasn’t just something that happened overnight. With the severity of the situation, we needed to make a statement.” Love and Thurman, who won a state championship at Heights in 2012 alongside Kansas forward Perry Ellis, got the message loud and clear.

The timing and the stakeholders pose serious questions about the move. Reading between the lines, there was surely more going on in the background than a disagreement with Joe Scott.  

Drick Bernstine - Sophomore Forward, DU 2013-2014 (1 yr.)

The 6'8" high school star from Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora transferred to North Dakota after spending his first collegiate season at the University of Denver. He redshirted last season and will have three seasons of eligibility starting with the 2015-16 season for the North Dakota Fighting Hawks (still can't get used to that).  

Against a solid early season schedule including Wisconsin, Florida Gulf Coast, Bowling Green, Youngstown State, and Minnesota Morris, he is averaging 10.5 points per game, nine rebounds, and 35 minutes per game. He is shooting 40.9% from the field. 

The rumor was always that Drick was a 'me' guy instead of a 'we' guy and his offensive shooting percentages were extremely low. At DU, playing time declined during his freshman year as the season progressed until he virtually disappeared. It looks like a year off, some maturity, and new scenery may have been the perfect move for Berstine. Still, there is no doubt that DU would have benefited from his size and rebounding. Nine boards per game would be a huge plus for this year's Denver team. Also, his size would help in the physical Summit League as well.

Transfer Summary

While it is too early to gauge the full impact of these transfers, they appear to be the right move for each of these players. From DU's perspective, only two, Delaney and Bernstine, appear to be significant losses to the program. Of those two, Delaney had a personal choice to get back to family and there is likely little Denver could have done to retain him. As for Bernstine, it appears to boil down to maturity and system fit. Love and Somac are playing down a level and in a playing style more commensurate with their skills and abilities.

The basketball transfer list, compiled by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, is often referenced as definitive evidence of the transfer problem across all of college basketball. But the NCAA’s research staff dug deeper and found Goodman’s list is not a list of transfers (that is Division I athletes who transferred to another Division I institution) but of departures. Of the 455 players on the list as of 10/4/2013, only 44% or about 200 transferred to another Division I school. Another 40% transferred down to Divisions II or III, NAIA, or a junior college, while 16% were not on a college roster in Fall 2014. In DU's case, Bernstine and Delaney transferred laterally while Somac and Love transferred down.

Most recent figures show Division I teams averaged about 1 1/3 departures per team, it only averaged about two-thirds of a transfer per team. Transfer rates are ticking up but are still under 15%, which is half the rate of college students generally. Denver hoop's departures mirror the typical departure rate for the average D1 program during Joe Scott's tenure.


Anonymous said...

The bigger story to me is that all of those players transferred to schools with far lesser academic reputations then DU. Fort Hays State, Newman University, Sam Houston State and North Dakota are all far inferior schools vs. DU, and since none of those players are going to be professional basketball players, they will graduate with degrees that employers will not value. So, yes, more playing time and points, but poor degrees. No way I would have made the jump. The players would all been better off staying at DU and graduating....

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Dorian Butler. What happened to him?

5BWest said...

Dorian Butler was a red-shirt Sophomore that transferred from DU. He was a 6'6" power-forward from Riverside California. He is at Southweastern Illinois (Community) College. The Blue Storm's last three games were against John A. Logan College, Wabash Valley, and Lindonwood-Belleville so definitely a lower tier program. Not sure if his path is driven by skills, academics, finances, or if this is a 1-year landing spot before moving back to D1. Either way, his attendance at DU did not appear to be a good fit for either party. He did not receive much playing time at DU. There is no place, including SWIC's own website, to find statistics and box scores for the basketball team. Their record is 4-3.

Anonymous said...

Royce O'Neal? Another transfer, to Baylor.

timt89 said...

Didn't cover Royce because he graduated. He was not highly recruited but developed into one of DU's best players ever. While he said wanted to move back to his sick grandfather, he was poached by Baylor. Poaching of top mid-major players is not unusual. Unfortunately, we will never know how DU would have done with him in his prime. BTW, DU gave him his outright release so he did not have to red shirt. That was a classy move by DU.

Dunker said...

Great job of investigative reporting 5BWest. Loss of O'neale was something no school at DU's level can overcome. Unfortunate.

Homesick kid, nothing you can do. Scott deserves some heat for 3 of the other transfers. Two were not good enough to play at our level and one didn't have the proper attitude. Jury still out on JUCO transfer.

Anonymous said...

I had heard Jalen Love had his scholarship taken away after last season.

5BWest said...

If his scholarship was 'taken away' he should have been able to transfer immediately to another D1 program without redshirting. So, the question remains why did he drop down, unless it was his choice or he had no other options (unlikely). I just think there is more to this story than we will ever know.