In three and half months, college basketball will tip-off the 2016-17 season.
Right now, teams are prepping for that period with summer practice sessions.
But apparently, guard Lamonte Bearden is not satisfied with his current home. The Milwaukee, WI opted to transfer from the Buffalo Bulls on Wednesday morning, opening up his recruitment in the middle of the summer (something you almost never see).
Bearden will have to sit out a season before having two more years of eligibility remaining starting in 2017-18. He has already attracted interest from numerous high major programs, including Miami, Texas A&M, TCU, Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Marquette and Iowa State. Surprisingly, Arizona State (who is now coached by former Buffalo head coach Bobby Hurley) is not on his list.
The 6’3″, 160 pound guard played two seasons for Buffalo, making two NCAA Tournaments. He averaged 8.3 points, 4.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game in his freshman year, while he jumped his scoring average to 13.7 points per game in his second season.
Bearden is not a consistent three point shooter (26 percent and under throughout his career), but he boosted his overall efficiency in year two. He shot 42 percent from the field, up from 38 percent in his freshman campaign, and showed the ability to attack the rim and challenge opposing big men.
While he doesn’t have great strength, Bearden is versatile enough to play on or off the ball, on both ends of the floor. He has great toughness and is active with his hands defensively.
There is no doubt that Bearden can play at a higher level of college basketball.
But transferring in the middle of the summer. Really?
There must have been some sort of behind the scenes work, better know as tampering. Unless there is something that happened at Buffalo in the last couple of weeks that the general public or the media doesn’t know about, then this is inexcusable.
While coaches dash from programs for better opportunities, staffs force players out the door when they would like to add a more advanced player, and even keep restrictions on former players transferring, Bearden’s decision puts the team in a poor position moving forward.
Buffalo has no recourse. All the impactful recruits and transfers are off the board, and there will be no replacing their leading scorer and best player.
It’s an unfortunate that college basketball eventually needs to fix.