On Tuesday, news broke that a pair of Bison on the North Dakota State men’s basketball team will be transferring out of the program.
Center Dylan Miller and guard Nnamdi Van Dulm will not be with the program moving into next year. Miller played in 22 games last year and averaged just 2.9 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. Van Dulm featured in just six games for a total of 41 minutes.
Seeing Van Dulm leave may not be much of a surprise.
In an interview with The Forum, Bison head coach David Richman said, “Nnamdi is exploring his options.”
As for Miller, the season was much more contentious. He served a three-game suspension late in the year for a violation of team rules.
Rewind two years, and Miller looked like he was in a prime spot to become NDSU’s next big man. He started 23 games as a true freshman in a rotation of Bison centers.
Last year, Miller started 19 games and split time with Dexter Werner. With Werner graduating, Miller looked set for an expanded role this past season.
Instead, Spencer Eliason became the Bison’s big man, averaging nearly 18 minutes per game as compared to Miller’s 9.6 minutes.
Eliason, who redshirted his freshman year, will forego his final year of eligibility and graduate this spring.
Now, the Bison will search for a new interior player. Rocky Kreuser is the most likely fit into Miller’s spot. As a freshman, Kreuser averaged nearly 13 minutes per game and 3.8 points. He and Deng Geu were the only Bison over 6-foot-7 to play significant minutes.
It is the second straight year where the Bison have lost big players due to transfers. Khy Kabellis, the Bison’s starting point guard, transferred to the University of the Pacific last year after starting every game the year prior.
But zooming out, the NCAA is starting to vaguely resemble NBA free agency. A quick Google search of “NCAA basketball transfers” and there is page after page of news.
In fact, from NCAA research, 40 percent of men’s basketball players who go Division I directly out of high school depart by the end of their sophomore year.
Of those, 90 percent leave for athletic reasons and 48 percent transfer to another D-I school.
For the record, basketball does not involve the most transfers in the NCAA for men. Baseball is involved in 19.2 percent of transfers between a two- and four-year college. Soccer meanwhile leads in four-year to four-year transfers at 13.7 percent.
But that still doesn’t mean there is a problem. A Sports Illustrated study underlines that fact. Since 2012, the number of players who have transferred into higher rated leagues has tripled.
Now, low-level and mid-major programs are started to be treated like farm systems for large teams. While the transfers of Miller and Van Dulm don’t fit that role, Kabellis surely does with a move into the West Coast Conference, home of Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU.
NDSU has missed this trend, for the most part. key transfers in the past two years have opened up holes in the Bison’s lineup. And that makes next season all the more interesting when it rolls around.