As the 2013-14 college basketball season comes to a close, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at players who started their career in the West Coast Conference and transferred to another Division I school. Included will be how they did during the time in the WCC and then how they performed at their new school this season. After the players name will be (current school, former school).
Manny Arop (Indiana State, Gonzaga): After being a key player off the bench from 2009-2011 for Gonzaga, Arop transferred to Indiana State after losing his rotation spot to Mike Hart and Marquise Carter in February 2011. This past season, as a 5th year senior at Indiana State, Arop averaged 10.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in a little over 28 minutes per game. While those numbers are all slightly down from his junior season, he had a better shooting percentage, 3 point percentage, and free throw percentage. The Sycamores, who had five different players average at least 10 points a game (or extremely close to double figures), could not challenge Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference and ended up losing to Arkansas in the 1st round of the NIT. This season, Arop was able to rekindle the good outside shooting he had at Gonzaga, and he certainly benefitted from extended playing time at ISU, something he failed to consistently get from Mark Few.
Ryan Spangler (Oklahoma, Gonzaga): After just one year at Gonzaga where he played very sparingly behind Elias Harris, Rob Sacre, and Sam Dower, Spangler took his talents down south and showed what a great rebounder and energy player he is. This season, Spangler averaged 9.6 points per game and 9.3 rebounds for game for a Sooners team that exceeded preseason expectations, going 12-6 in the extremely tough Big 12 Conference before losing to North Dakota State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Spangler’s scoring and rebounding declined a bit during February and March, but he still had an impressive season that made Gonzaga fans wish he had never transferred, especially given the Bulldogs lack in frontcourt depth this past season.
Grant Gibbs (Creighton, Gonzaga): It seems like ages ago that Grant Gibbs first stepped on Gonzaga’s campus in the fall of 2008. After two injury plagued seasons (one of which he redshirted and the other he received minimal playing time), Gibbs transferred to Creighton and flourished in his three years playing alongside Doug McDermott. His 6th year senior season at Creighton (which he received because of major help from Mark Few) was plagued by a mid-season dislocated kneecap (a continuation of his knee problems) that caused him to miss 4 weeks during the middle of the Big East season. Despite returning, he never seemed healthy after the injury, and the ball-handling responsibilities slowly shifted out of his hands and into Austin Chatman’s. Nonetheless Gibbs averaged 7.2 points and 3.9 assists as Creighton won the Big East regular season and lost to a red hot Baylor team in the 3rd round of the NCAA Tournament.
Damarcus Harrison (Clemson, BYU): After playing his freshman season at BYU in 2011-12, Harrison had plans to go on his LDS mission. However, after those plans fell through, Dave Rose had already allocated Harrison’s scholarship elsewhere. Without the option to come back to BYU, Harrison got immediate eligibility to transfer to Clemson last season. After a highly inefficient sophomore season last year, Harrison made a great deal of progress in 2013-14. Harrison averaged 7.8 points on 39 percent shooting and 35 percent from beyond the arc, up from 22.4 percent last season. But Harrison played his best basketball of the season over the past 12 games as Clemson made their march to the NIT semifinals. In those 12 games, he averaged 11.6 points on 46.2 percent shooting and 38.8 percent from beyond the arc. Harrison will look to have an even bigger impact next season with the potential departure of KJ McDaniels to the NBA draft.
Perris Blackwell (Washington, San Francisco): After being named to the WCC All-Conference team in 2011-12 as a junior, Blackwell (along with many other players on the USF squad) decided to pursue opportunities elsewhere after the Dons’ disappointing season. Blackwell, along with many other former USF players were critical of Rex Walters’ coaching style to the media. And despite the increased level of competition, Blackwell had a very solid year in his lone season as a Washington Husky in 2013-14. Blackwell averaged 10.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 27.5 minutes per game. However, his final game was arguably his worst, as he scored only 1 point on 0 of 3 shooting in a loss to Utah in the Pac 12 tournament. Washington finished the year at 17-15 and 9-9 in the Pac 12, but did not participate in the NIT or the CBI.
Michael Williams (Cal State Fullerton, San Francisco): Williams, like Blackwell, played 3 seasons for USF from 2009 to 2012 before using his last year of eligibility elsewhere. After a bad shooting slump during his disappointing junior season at USF, Williams had a nice bounce back season for CSF in 2013-14. He was Mr. Consistency for CSF, scoring in double figures in each of their 31 games. Williams ended the season with 17.4 points per game and 2.5 assists per game, despite the fact that the Titans stumbled through a 11-20 season going just 6-10 in the Big West Conference. Like Blackwell, Williams ended the season on a rough note, scoring just 10 points on 3 of 17 shooting in the Titans’ last game against Long Beach State in their conference tournament.
Chris Cunningham (San Jose State, Santa Clara): After a year and a half of not too much playing time at Santa Clara from 2009 to January 2011, Cunningham transferred to a rebuilding San Jose State program hoping to make a big impact. However, the SJSU Spartans got absolutely annihilated by the strong Mountain West Conference this past season going 7-24 on the season and just 1-17 in conference play. Cunningham also had a down season, scoring just 8.2 points per game and grabbing 6.3 rebounds per game in 2013-14, after compiling 10.7 and 9.0 points and rebounds per game respectively the year before.
Hector Harold (Vermont, Pepperdine): Harold played limited minutes from 2010-2012 at Pepperdine with many very poor shooting performances, as the Waves had two very difficult seasons those years. While Harold is the only player featured in the article to not start at his new school in 2013-14, he still had an impact at Vermont, scoring 5.0 points per game and hauling in 3.0 rebounds per game off the bench in around 15 minutes per game. But one game stands out above all for Harold. November 24th, 2013. Vermont traveled to Cameron Indoor Stadium to face the #6 ranked Duke Blue Devils, who have not lost a non-conference home game since St. Johns in 2000. While Vermont gave Duke everything they could handle and only lost 91-90 in a close thriller, Harold put up a season high 24 points on 9/12 shooting against one of the best teams in the country on national television. If Harold can consistently have games like that, I expect a big final season for him at UVM next season.