Monday, May 23, 2011

Another Transfer Should Benefit Loyola

Within the next month or so we'll do a full recruiting update on every conference program. But, occasionally, an incoming player catches the eye of this blogger.

The most recent one is Jordan Latham, a 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward who played limited minutes at Xavier this past season and, recently, announced that he's transferring back to his home-area to attend Loyola.

Players returning home after not having success at a higher level have had hit-and-miss results at MAAC schools. But, Latham looks like the type who can be a "hit" for Loyola, a program that has considerable success with transfers in the past.

In fact, transfers have helped keep Loyola's program solid in recent years, moreso than any MAAC program. That's not to put any judgment on the team's proclivity for attracting transfers, just pointing out a trend.

But, it's a trend that began back in the late 1990's when Virginia transfer Mike Powell moved to the Baltimore school, and has continued under the direction of current coach Jimmy Patsos, who is entering his eighth year with the Greyhounds.

In fact, the school's top three players in terms of career scoring average, Andre Collins (from Maryland), Gerald Brown (Providence) and Powell have all been transfers. Another transfer, Jamal Barney, led the MAAC in scoring in the 2008-09 season, but personal problems caused him to leave the program at midseason in each of the last two years.

This past year's team, though, also relied on transfers. Center Shane Walker (Maryland) and forward Erik Etherly (Northeastern) were No. 1 and 2 in scoring and rebounding for the Greyhounds.

And, now, Latham, a highly touted Baltimore high school player prior to moving on to Xavier, comes aboard and will be eligible for the 2012-13 season.

Latham averaged 17 points and nine rebounds per game as a senior at Baltimore's City High School, and led that program to a state championship in each of his last two seasons there. He was rated the 20th-best power forward nationally during his senior high school season by one rating service, but was behind some established veterans at Xavier and only averaged 4.8 minutes of playing time this past season.

The transfer route has been used by several conference programs, almost always those from a metropolitan area, and the reason is easy to comprehend.

Larger cities like Baltimore and the New York metropolitan area produce considerably more high-major Division I performers than smaller areas (upstate New York, for instance). Almost always when a high-major player is disatisfied with a basketball situation he transfers back to a "home area" school.

And, no school has benefitted more from the opportunity derived from bringing in good transfers than Loyola.

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