By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
When the Bonaventure men’s basketball program took to Twitter to announce the transfer intentions of guards Iakeem Alston and Jalen Adams as well as forward Xavier Smith, the overwhelming reaction from Bonnies fans was not one of shock. There was almost an indifference from students and alumni; the only heart-stopping moment came from fans who didn’t initially differentiate Jalen Adams from Jaylen Adams.
“(Jalen and Xavier) both want more playing time and so we understand and support their decisions. We wish them the best of luck in the future,” coach Mark Schmidt said in the press release.
It’s hard to fault the trio for wanting to see the floor more. Alston, Smith and redshirt freshman Adams combined to play 428 of a possible 1240 minutes this season. Alston accounted for 307 of them with the majority of those minutes coming after Jaylen Adams went down for the season with his broken ring finger.
Jay Adams is the starting point guard when healthy; that’s a no-brainer. Being second on the point guard depth chart in your senior season is far from an attractive proposition, so Alston ultimately made the best choice.
The 6-foot-2 junior guard can start elsewhere, with blinding speed, strong defense and one of the best euro-step moves I’ve seen in the Atlantic 10. At the beginning of the season many thought he would be the starter with Schmidt’s history of favoring upperclassmen. Transferring twice in two years- from junior college to Bona to another school- is not easy, but he seems willing to take the challenge head-on.
Smith couldn’t crack the rotation in his two seasons as a Bonnie, due in part to the talent and experience of big men who were in front of him on the depth chart. In his limited playing time, however, he did show some potential, specifically defensively. In the first five games of the season he grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked eight shots before being relegated to Schmidt’s doghouse for the remainder of the season.
If the 6-foot-8 forward is given a shot at more playing time elsewhere, he can contribute to whichever team he ends up on. A defensive-minded big man is welcome on any coaches’ roster.
Jalen Adams’s situation was the most confounding of the three all season. The 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman from Saginaw, Mich. was hyped by many coming in, and Schmidt called him “arguably the most explosive recruit we’ve signed during my tenure.” After sitting out the 2013-14 season due to ineligibility, Adams was expected to make a major impact this season.
That impact didn’t happen as expected, however. After scoring 11 points in the win over Dartmouth and seven points in the win over Siena, Adams played in just 12 of the remaining 29 games. The most playing time he got in those 12 games was nine minutes against Jackson St.
After all the pomp and circumstance he was greeted with coming in, the fact that Adams is now leaving after just one season in which we were unable to see his potential is a major disappointment. There was such a small sample size that questions surrounding his lack of playing time swirled the whole year and were largely left unanswered.
A bright spot to these transfers for the Bonnies is that they now have five open scholarship slots. With many talented players out there in the recruiting pool, Schmidt and his staff will work to bring in guys who can contribute immediately. Last year, the last two slots were filled by Marcus Posley and Jaylen Adams, so the late gets can often prove to be the most important. Locking in Canadian standout Kyle Alexander remains the top priority, but it will be intriguing to see who else is brought in.
When one door closes another one opens, and this will be the case for both the players transferring out and the Bona coaching staff as they move forward.