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Email questions: What’s up with the transfers?

Ford has had 42 percent of his players transfer out of Stillwater…

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It always seemed like an inefficient endeavor to pour my time into answering one question for one person on Twitter or email but because I’m a moron I never thought “hey, maybe there are other people who want these same questions answered, I could write a blog post on them..” Then I read this book which suggested that very thing and decided to give it a whirl.

All that to say if you feel like sending me questions via Twitter or email there’s a decent chance they’ll end up on a quickie post here.

Kyle – what are your thoughts on all of these transfers? Understand that things happen from time to time, however the amount of transfers Ford has dealt with is ridiculous. What is the cause? Ford recruiting the wrong players? Players not enjoying Ford/the program?  -B

Ford has brought 26 guys into the Oklahoma State program in his time in Stillwater[1. I’m not holding the Sean Sutton recruits for or against Ford. I’m using the class lists provided by Rivals/247 etc. and I threw in Soucek, Sager, and Matt Pilgrim.] (not counting the class for 2014-2015). Here’s how those panned out:

Transferred: 11
Kicked off team: 2
Left early for draft: 1
Completed career: 4
Still in program: 7
Never qualified: 1

So Ford has had 42 percent of his recruits transfer (and I’m being generous on the term “recruits” here with Sager). Forty-two percent! Two players (Markel and JPO) have played three years or more and finished up at OSU. That’s a whopping 8 percent, though you will likely soon be able to add Nash and Cobbins to that list.

Here’s how those numbers compare to the national averages. The year-over-year college basketball transfer rate is just over 10 percent[1. I had this wrong in a post I wrote earlier in the year and, ironically, defended Ford from the position I was arguing. I thought the number was 34 percent but that was based on a study Luke Winn wrote on Top 100 guys only.]

According to the USA Today study above only about 38 percent of all college basketball players recruited out of high school even enter their third year at the school that recruited them. Ford’s number there is actually higher than you’d expect in this arena. He’s retained 37 percent of high schoolers (toss out Pilgrim, JPO, Darrell, Jurick etc.) into their third years though Gulley, Dowell, and BWill later left so I’m not sure that even matters.

The point in all of this is that there’s clearly no foundation here with Ford. He flailed about with Smart for a couple of years — thinking (and convincing all of us to think) that he could be the rising tide that lifted all boats. He somehow kept a four-year gem in Markel around and will do the same with Nash.

But what is the plan? What are we? Is there more of an identity in year seven than there was in year one? Ford is a multimillionaire’s AAU coach right down to the excuses for why his teams do or don’t win.

I have no idea what the exact cause for these guys leaving is but my completely uneducated guess is that it’s a combination of Ford taking swings and misses with dudes that are not as Gundy says “high-character guys”, over-recruiting specific positions (all of the point guards, Ford, all of them!), and no sense of “this is who we are, this is what we’re going to be.”

A lot of these players come from career backgrounds that scream “here, do whatever you want, you’re clearly the best player on our AAU team” and with that comes instability. You can’t let an 18-year-old have the reins (see: Smart, Lubbock) to the degree with which they’re doled out. And clearly Ford hasn’t figured out how to take them back.

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