Three basketball players transferring
NOAH HILTON | CONTRIBUTOR
Losing players has become an increasingly prominent talking point in the landscape of college basketball. Consequently, the issue has become an unavoidable obstacle on the path to becoming a perennially successful program.
For the blue bloods of college hoops — the Kentucky Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks, Duke Blue Devils, etc. —coaches must deal with the always-present possibility of players moving on to the NBA after just one or two seasons at the collegiate level.
For the rest of the nation, the on-court talent has less professional potential as a whole, and even though coaches do not often have to deal with the “one-and-done” attitude of future NBA lottery picks, they still must accept the likelihood that players may decide to transfer to other schools in search of better opportunities both on and off the court.
The University of San Diego men’s basketball team is no different. Recently, it was announced that three players — sophomores Marcus Harris, Vasa Pusica, and Khalil Bedart-Ghani — will be leaving next season in favor of other programs, opening a gaping hole in the future of the Toreros’ backcourt. None of the three have made any announcements regarding their next landing spots.
While the players could not be reached for comment, head coach Lamont Smith offered encouraging words regarding their futures.
“It’ll be a new opportunity for them,” Smith said. “They’re outstanding young men. I hope they find everything they’re looking for, and the basketball staff here at USD wishes them the best.”
Harris, a top-ranked recruit from San Antonio, TX, started for most of last season and served as one of the leaders of the team’s young offense. His 6.6 points per game ranked just sixth on the team in 2015-16, but he had more than a few big games over the course of the year, including a 23-point scoring binge in a win over the Loyola Marymount Lions in January. Harris took to Twitter to thank the USD community for being supportive of him during his two years at the school.
“It has been a blessing to play for USD,” Harris said. “Thanks to everyone who supported me, but I am transferring in search of a new opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Pusica, a 6’5” sophomore from Serbia, appeared in every game last season and finished second on the team in scoring with 8.3 points per game. His sweet stroke from the three-point line also made him one of the team’s few threats from long range.
Pusica also offered his thoughts on the situation via Twitter.
“I would like to thank USD for the opportunity to play at such a great school,” Pusica said. “I have decided to transfer in hopes of a better fit for me.”
Finally, Bedart-Ghani, an athletic second-year man from Inglewood, CA, struggled to find playing time in a crowded backcourt, averaging just under four minutes a game. Bedart-Ghani certainly looked to have the defensive prowess to play an important role for the Toreros in coming campaigns.
Combined with the loss of star senior Duda Sandaze to graduation, the Toreros backcourt will need to make big improvements in order to remain competitive in the West Coast Conference next season. Olin Carter III appears to be entrenched as the team’s starting point guard, and coach Lamont Smith will have inexperienced options off the bench in freshmen Tyler Williams and Hunter Summy.
However, if anything, the move will test Smith’s recruiting mettle early, as the Toreros will likely need to rely on fresh faces to salvage things quickly.
To his credit, Smith appears confident that the team will be able to persevere. “We’re fine,” he insisted when asked about the situation.
“We’ve got recruits locked up, a couple of open scholarships to play with,” Smith said. “The program will continue to move forward.”
Following a disappointing 9-21 season, the last thing a program wants is to lose a significant part of its future foundation. However, a fresh start might be exactly what the young team needs as they look to become a contender in the West Coast Conference in the near future.