Attrition Has Taken A Bite Out Of The Mountaineers As Of Late
Attrition continues to chip away at the underclassmen in West Virginia’s football and men’s basketball programs.
Teddy Allen announced Thursday that he was leaving the Mountaineer basketball team. As a freshman for Bob Huggins’ squad this past season, the 6-foot-5 Allen was seventh on the team in scoring with an average of 7.0 points a game. He also pulled down 2.7 rebounds per contest, playing in 35 of WVU’s 37 games last season.
In addition, freshman receiver Reggie Roberson also revealed via Twitter on Thursday that he was leaving West Virginia’s football squad.
A 6-foot receiver, Roberson caught six passes for 30 yards and one TD this past season as a true freshman. He played in 12 of WVU’s 13 games in 2017, and his catch total was the most of the Mountaineers’ non-starting receivers.
Both Allen and Roberson are going to transfer, though the next stop for each is still unknown. There is speculation that Roberson, who grew up just outside of Dallas, is headed home and will attend SMU.
Allen’s departure caught most of the attention after the announcements were made, which is understandable since the charismatic forward was a fan favorite at times. Roberson hadn’t gotten enough playing time yet to earn much public notice, but the young receiver with good speed seemed likely in line for considerable playing time in a couple years when the current batch of veteran pass catchers, like David Sills and Gary Jennings, graduate.
More than anything, the departure of each furthers a worrisome trend of underclassmen attrition that has hit both programs recently.
Allen is the third member of this past year’s men’s basketball team to seek a transfer, joining sophomore center Maciej Bender and junior guard D’Angelo Hunter. Bender and Hunter were both end-of-the-bench guys whose departures are understandable, as they are seeking more playing time elsewhere. Allen was not in that situation, though, as he averaged 11.9 minutes a game, a number that figured to rise significantly in the years to come. And while at times Teddy’s attitude and lack of defense earned him spots in Huggins’ doghouse, his scoring ability always seemed to allow him to work his way out.
Allen’s situation is also unusual in that Huggins hasn’t had to deal with many players looking to transfer out in recent years. In the past couple of seasons, Elijah Macon and Devin Williams each departed the program after their junior years, but both left to seek pro basketball opportunities, not to play at another college. The last scholarship players from WVU to transfer to another Division I school came when Eron Harris and Terry Henderson left for Michigan State and North Carolina State respectively following the 2013-14 season.
So, at this point Allen’s decision to transfer out can’t be viewed as a trend.
As for Roberson, he’s certainly had more company exiting the Mountaineer football team as of late.
Out of 23 scholarship signees from WVU’s class of 2017, which included Roberson, six have already departed, most within less than a year of their enrollment. Four of those (fullback Maverick Wolfley, cornerback Fontez Davis, quarterback David Isreal and defensive lineman Jalen Harvey) hadn’t yet proved they were going to be top flight players, but noseguard Lamont McDougle, who started nine games last season, and Roberson both appeared to have plenty of promise.
These six first-year players leaving the program have been joined this spring by a group of nine other underclassmen who have left the football team. Cornerback Jacquez Adams, cornerback Jordan Adams, quarterback Chris Chugunov, defensive lineman Jaleel Fields, center Ray Raulerson, offensive guard Alec Shriner, defensive end Adam Shuler, cornerback Kevin Williams and kicker Jonn Young also have exited the club in recent months.
Every team faces some level of attrition each year – the NCAA basketball transfer rate is near 50 percent, while football is in the 30-percent range – but too much attrition can be a killer, especially down the road.
And more than anything, most of the departures reflect recruiting misses. That shows with the recent exodus at WVU, as only a few probably were good enough to warrant significant playing time at any point in the future.
Every recruiting class is going to have misses, but the better the percentage, the better the team.
For instance, when Huggins’ squads suffered some lean years in 2013 (13-19) and 2014 (17-16), you could point to a four-year period of recruiting from 2010-13 in which just three of the 14 freshmen who entered as scholarship players ultimately graduated from WVU. The other 11 transferred out. But in the past five classes, West Virginia has brought in 15 freshmen. Two left early to go pro (Macon and Williams) and now Allen and Bender have transferred out. The other 11 either graduated from WVU or are still on the team. That retention rate has helped Huggins’ club find success on the court again.
West Virginia’s football and basketball teams won’t likely collapse with the recent exits. But be it a recruiting mistake with a player who wasn’t talented enough to help the program or losing one who ultimately was good enough to contribute but still wanted to leave, each type of departure can severely hamper a program. And if a team suffers enough of either of those, ultimately its record suffers.
We’ll see over the next few years what all this revolving door action does to the Mountaineers on the field and court.