Months ago, I posted a "Where are they now?" look at those transfers from the UVA basketball program under Tony Bennett. It's time to add to that list, and this time we're starting early. Two departures from the basketball team, Paul Jesperson and Taylor Barnette, have chosen where they will take their talents next.
First, we'll look at the football team's high profile story of Philip Sims, who is moving on after being declared academically ineligible to play at Virginia. You'll recall that, just over a year ago, Sims decided to transfer from Alabama after his redshirt season. The highly touted QB picked UVA to be closer to his father, who was ill, and received a medical hardship waiver to play right away.
Sims appeared in all 12 of UVA's games last season, completing 114 of 203 passes (56.2%) and finishing with 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Though he showed flashes of what made him the #1-ranked QB recruit in the nation, particularly his superior arm strength, he struggled to pick up the full scope of the offense, and his work ethic was brought into question. This offseason, Mike London reported that Sims failed to uphold his three tenets of a Wahoo football player: "Go to class, show class, and treat people with dignity and respect." He was declared ineligible and decided to transfer a second time. Last night, he reported on his Twitter feed that he had chosen Winston-Salem State University.
Guess I let the cat out the bag... I'm the newest member of the #wssu fam. I am thankful for this opportunity that I've been given.— Phillip Sims (@phil14_sims757_) July 29, 2013
WSSU competes in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association - they were picked to win the conference this season for the third straight year. The addition of a player of Sims's caliber probably will not hurt. Because WSSU is a Division II school, Sims is not required to sit out a year before playing. (Update: Despite this, Jerry Ratcliffe reports that Sims WILL sit out a season).
Heading back to the hardcourt, Taylor Barnette also picked a destination over the weekend, according to CBSSports.com's Jeff Borzello:
Virginia transfer Taylor Barnette is heading to Belmont, per sources. Perfect fit for him.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) July 28, 2013
Belmont, which plays in the Ohio Valley Conference, has made three straight NCAA tournaments, though they're probably best remembered for nearly taking down Duke as a 15-seed in 2008.
Borzello's read on the situation makes sense, as the sharp-shooting Barnette (who played limited minutes but shot 43.2% from behind the arc) will play for a similarly offensive-minded Belmont squad, which has ranked in the top 15 nationally in eFG% the past 3 years. Additionally, Barnette's relative weakness on the defensive end will not be as glaring as it was under Tony Bennett's system.
Finally, Taylor is likely to find the increased role and playing time he is looking for. Belmont's five highest usage players last season were juniors and seniors - all will have graduated by the time Barnette is eligible to play in the 2014-2015 year (at which point he'll have 3 years left to play).
To round things out, we'll circle back to Paul Jesperson, who announced earlier this month that he would move to Northern Iowa. Like Barnette, Jesperson will be required to sit out for one season, then will have a good chance to win a starter's role at a strong mid-major.
After transferring, Paul cited the opportunity to better show his versatility, breaking out of what he called his "catch-and-shoot" role at UVA. You may recall Jesperson's dunk two seasons ago at Duke (check the 1:25 mark of this video) as an example of this versatility...though other such instances were few and far between. Jesperson's reasoning was surprising, as he showed little ball-handling ability and it's tough to imagine that anybody at UVA sought to limit him on offense. Regardless, we'll follow what he can do with a larger role at UNI.
Jesperson and Barnette's decisions to transfer were not surprising from a basketball perspective. After all, playing time on next year's stacked roster will be difficult to come by. Still, their choices have been debated by fans; after all, from an academic standpoint, it's difficult to understand why student-athletes with little hope of professional careers wouldn't stick around for a UVA degree (not to mention a chance to be a part of a potentially special 2013-2014 team). REALLY difficult. Regardless, both basketball departures, along with Sims, are just 18-22 year olds looking for their best college experiences - we at Streaking The Lawn wish all the best during the rest of their college careers and will continue to keep Wahoo fans updated on their whereabouts.