Arizona Basketball

Transfers from Arizona Wildcats’ program all a part of the game



Craig Victor becomes the sixth player to transfer in  Sean Miller's  six years at Arizona

Craig Victor becomes the sixth player to transfer in Sean Miller’s six years at Arizona

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Transfers are part of the college basketball landscape. Arizona has experienced its fair share on both ends and it remains one of the top operations in the nation.

Craig Victor, the freshman forward who announced Tuesday he was transferring from Arizona, is the latest to leave. He won’t be the last in the years to come.

Victor’s premature exit for another college program in the Sean Miller era follows that of MoMo Jones (Iona), Daniel Bejarano (Colorado State), Josiah Turner (SMU and then Europe), Sidiki Johnson (Providence) and Angelo Chol (San Diego State).

Arizona has also benefited from the transfers into the program such as Mark Lyons (Xavier), T.J. McConnell (Duquesne) and Ryan Anderson (Boston College).

It’s not the NBA but players come and go just the same.

Lute Olson lost more than one-third of the players he recruited to another program. He recruited 102 players and 36 transferred.

The list for the most part is not a who’s who of Arizona: Bruce Wheatley, Eric Cooper, Van Beard, Traves Wilson, Jesus Verdejo, Travis Hanour, Jarvis Kelley, Rolf Jacobs, Casey Schmidt, Dennis Latimore, Andrew Zahn … you get the idea.


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The Olson All-Transfer Team:

Guard: Will Bynum, scored 26 points in one quarter during his time with the Pistons.
Guard: Ruben Douglas, led the NCAA in scoring with 28 points per game for New Mexico as a senior. He played professionally nine years overseas in Spain, Russia, Greece, Italy and Turkey.
Center: Etdrick Bohannon, played four seasons in the NBA for five different teams.
Forward: Ron Curry, drew unfair comparisons to Sean Elliott early in his Arizona career and transferred after his freshman season to Marquette after former assistant Kevin O’Neill became head coach there in 1990. He became an All-Great Midwest Conference player by 1993 but never played in the NBA.
Forward: Tony Clark, transferred to San Diego State and led the Aztecs in scoring (11.8 points per game) in 1991-92 before realizing his skills were more suited for baseball. He played 13 years in the big leagues. He is the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Others who left during the Olson era include J.P. Prince (Tennessee) and Laval Lucas-Perry (Michigan and then Oakland).

Another standout was Richard Hollis, who scored 1,057 points in his career with Houston between 1987-89. Hollis, a hotshot recruit from Portland who had disciplinary issues with Olson and his staff, was one of a few players who never played a minute with Arizona before going elsewhere.


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The others who never played a game for the Wildcats before transferring, because of academic problems, injuries or dismay: Jeff Withey (Kansas), Luke Recker (Iowa), Dion Broom (Mesa Community College), Orlando Vega (Providence) and Chris Dunn (New Mexico Highlands).

Victor, who only played 57 minutes in eight games this season, is not the quickest to bolt.

Van Beard, the second recruit of the Olson era to sign with the Wildcats, played three minutes before transferring to Nevada. Sidiki Johnson had run-ins with Miller and his staff, much like Hollis with Olson’s staff, from the start of the 2011-12 season. Johnson was gone after playing only three games.

Olson and Miller each experienced transfer issues from the start of their Arizona careers.

Michael Tait, Olson’s first signed recruit, transferred to Clemson because of playing opportunities by the middle of his sophomore season.

Zane Johnson, an Olson holdover, transferred to Hawaii after Miller arrived from Xavier in 2009. Johnson’s departure brought to mind those of Puntus Wilson, Todd Porter, Greg Scott and Andy Woodtli when Olson came to town in 1983. Wilson, Porter and Scott were reportedly told by Olson that they would not be welcomed back as holdovers from the 4-24 Ben Lindsey season.

Woodtli, recruited by Lindsey, could have stayed with Arizona, but he never played a minute for Olson and transferred to Southern Illinois.

Miller’s first three recruiting classes at Arizona included 12 players, five of whom transferred. Victor is the only one of the last three classes who will leave to play elsewhere in college.

The two most high-impact transfers in Arizona basketball history occurred during the Fred Snowden era.

Leon Wood left to Cal State-Fullerton after his freshman year of 1979-80 and became a 1984 Olympian who played for Bobby Knight’s team that summer. He later was a first-round draft pick of Philadelphia in the NBA. He went on to become an NBA referee.

John Irving, who was part of Snowden’s first recruiting class of 1972, transferred to Hofstra after his freshman season. Irving led the NCAA in rebounding in his first season with Hofstra, averaging 15.3 boards a game in 1974-75. Irving’s departure, however, made way for Arizona’s best center in program history, Bob Elliott, who was signed by Snowden out of Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1973.

Victor’s decision to transfer could open a scholarship for another prized recruit. Two high-profile Class of 2015 frontcourt players — Ivan Rabb and Stephen Zimmerman — have Arizona as finalists on their list.

Victor is a good kid and he was passionate about Arizona when he played his senior season at Findlay Prep last year.

In this era of instant gratification with one-and-dones and coaches trying to get the most out of a star player in one year, a program does not have time to feel sorry for what was lost.

It’s not the NBA but players come and go just the same. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also has published articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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