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The dangers of the grad-transfer market

A look at why schools have to be careful when adding new players from other colleges.

Drew Brown - A Sea of Blue

Over the past few seasons the grad-transfer market has become a key element in roster planning for nearly every program — Kentucky included.

The latest example is Davion Mintz, though he’s a very unique situation compared to the normal grad transfers college sports see. Many of them are small-school stars looking to jump into a major conference and show they can also ball out at that level.

Mintz, however, has already played in a major conference at Creighton. He made it clear he came to Kentucky to win and will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Getting a grad transfer is not quite as important as the signing of an incoming recruiting class, although it seems like with each passing year the idea of adding an experienced mid-major player becomes more intriguing to coaches and fans alike.

However, there are dangers in bringing in transfers from other schools to blend in with your current roster.

Aaron Torres at KSR wrote about these very dangers, detailing his conversations with several high-major coaches who provided evidence about the potential pitfalls of bringing the wrong player into your program.

Here is an excerpt from Torres’ article that really stood out:

“One Pac-12 assistant shared a story about calling a kid who averaged somewhere in the neighborhood of 17-18 points per game at a low major school last year, and was looking to transfer up. At first the kid said all the right things about wanting to play on a bigger stage, have a shot at the NCAA Tournament all that stuff. It was only later in the call that the kid said that he also expected to get the same number of shots that he’d had at the last school, average the same number of points (or more!) and essentially have the whole offense run through him. This program, which returns several starters next year and brings in a few high-profile recruits had to kindly say “Thank you, but no thank you” and move onto the next guy.”

This wasn’t the only example included in the post by Torres. You can read the entire thing here.

It goes without saying that a place like Kentucky need due diligence to be done before showing interest in a player, and they really peel back the layers before offering a roster spot. You know that’s what happened when they ultimately decided Davion Mintz was the best backcourt transfer for them to add this offseason, whereas bigger names like Carlin Jones and Justin Turner probably wanted a school they’d get a lot of shots at.

The Cats have been no stranger to the grad transfer market, most recently adding Reid Travis and Nate Sestina as key pieces to teams that were in need of frontcourt depth. And while you can argue how successful they were in Lexington, there is zero debate that both of those guys were outstanding teammates who did nothing but improve the team morale. This element may be as critical as on-court performance when weighing a grad-transfers value, so perhaps those the kind of qualities Calipari saw in Mintz.

Another name that continues to be linked to Kentucky is Purdue’s Matt Haarms, who will be immediately eligible and is expected to cut his list down to 10 schools today.

What are your thoughts on Kentucky playing the grad-transfer game?