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Mailbag 4/27

How would you grade Damon Stoudamire so far?

Pacific v Pepperdine Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

tyler_pifer92: How would you grade Damon Stoudamire so far?

Losing Smith and (potentially) Kelly hurts, but he’s landed one of the top transfer classes so far (#7 on 247). 3 of the 5 are immediate impact (Reeves, Abrams, Claude) while Dowuona and Gapare have long term upside.

If Kelly comes back things will get very interesting. Great start in my opinion!

Ben: I agree, I think he’s done a good job in bringing in transfers. Of course, it’s always tough when players transfer out, but that is just a part of a new coach coming in. Those players had attachments to the previous coach, and they should be allowed to explore their options. If that means they transfer, I wish them the best, but if that means they come back, then great!

Asa: Well, the only thing we can grade Stoudamire on at this point is roster construction, and I’d be inclined to say he’s done a pretty good job in that respect! I would absolutely agree that losing Smith hurts. He definitely started to come into his own last season and I am really going to miss seeing him in gold and white. However, the addition of Abram certainly lessens the blow of losing Smith and gives us a versatile backcourt option with legitimate NBA upside. In the frontcourt, things are much better than they were to begin the offseason, but I still feel like we are missing a true difference-maker at the five spot. Claude and Dowuona seem like nice depth pieces and Gapare is a tantalizing prospect, but not an ACC-caliber guy right now. I believe we have at least one scholarship left, (assuming Kelly stays) so I would love to see this staff pull in a post player with a more complete skill set.

Rob: I have to agree with you! I am pretty happy with the way things have gone so far. The most interesting part to me is how quietly coach Stoudamire has been working in the background. Outside of maybe Reeves, most of these transfers have come out of nowhere and have been high quality and high upside players which we are picking up. I have always been a big Deivon Smith fan and wish him all the best wherever he ends up. I think his upside is off the charts if he can put it all together and play more consistently. With that said, I think the Abram pickup gives us a player who is just as capable, if not more capable and can certainly fill his spot. Lastly, I sure hope I am right, but I really don’t think Kelly leaves. If he does come back, this roster can definitely make some noise.

Submitted via email: What are your thoughts on the transfers in/out of the men’s basketball program? Is Coach Stoudamire intentionally pushing people out the door? Or are guys just looking for playing time elsewhere now that more talent is coming into the program? Do you think Miles Kelly is going to stay in the draft or is this just a chance to test the waters and get a good evaluation? What players are getting NIL deals within the basketball program?

Ben: I think the transfers in and out are just a natural part of coaching transitions. Anytime a new coach comes in, there are going to be hard conversations about what kind of potential a new coach sees in the current roster. I don’t think it’s quite as drastic as what Deion Sanders is doing at Colorado, but I would not be surprised if Stoudamire has told players they probably won’t play much, causing them to look at their options. I’ll defer to someone more in-the-know on Miles Kelly. I don’t know any specifics of NIL deals, but I know that is something that ADJB is very keen on, so you will presumably hear about those soon. If nothing else, they’re probably at least getting something from The Tech Way.

Asa: The transfers out were a clear example of players getting “processed.” It is an unfortunate aspect of high-level college athletics, but one that many coaches view as a necessary evil, especially when taking over a new program. I truly hope that each player that left Tech lands in a place where they can thrive and achieve their goals. I am sad to see these guys leave. Deivon Smith was one of the most electric players to wear a Yellow Jacket uniform in the last decade, and Rodney Howard was an amazing leader for the team and ambassador for the university. However, as I said before, this is just a part of the current landscape of college sports, and if you want to find success at this level, you have to operate in the same landscape as everyone else. In regards to Miles Kelly, I think this was absolutely the right decision for him to make. It’s been clear to me since his Freshman year that Kelly has the potential to make an NBA roster. I don’t think he’s anywhere near that point yet, but it totally makes sense for him to test the waters and get feedback from scouts. I would be absolutely shocked if he stayed in the draft. Mike DeVoe went through a similar process after his Junior year and the NBA feedback really pushed him to take his game to another level. In my opinion, this seems to be what Kelly is doing. Regarding NIL, you probably know more about that than I do. I know it’s something that the new AD is pushing for, but I’ve got no clue what it looks like at the moment.

Rob: What we are seeing with the transfers is just the current state of college basketball, made even more extreme by a coaching transition. I remember seeing a stat recently that only 2 power six programs did not have at least one player transferring out. Reviewing the On3 Transfer Portal, LSU has 7 players transferring out, Illinois and North Carolina have 6, and Tennessee has 5, just to name a few examples. I think the high number of departures is a combination of the two things you mentioned. I am sure that Coach Stoudamire told some of the guys they probably would not get much playing time, but they also likely took the opportunity to find somewhere else that better suited them, especially not having a relationship with the new coaching staff. In that case, they are essentially starting their recruitment over again. I hope I am correct, but I do not think Miles Kelly is going to stay in the NBA draft. I think this is something we see year in and year out where players take the opportunity to get coaching and feedback regarding what they need to work on, and it would make zero sense for him not to do it. His game took a significant leap forward this year, but I still do not anticipate him being a high draft pick. However, if he can take another leap like that in the upcoming year, he could really start to put himself on the NBA radar. All that said, I remember us all saying the same thing when Josh Okogie put his name into the NBA draft. We all thought he was a lock to come back to school and we saw how that turned out. Not exactly the same circumstances, but just something to consider. Miles needs to make the best decision for himself and his future and if that ends up being to stay in the NBA draft, then I would wish him the best of luck. Regarding the NIL, I am out of the loop on all the details so I probably can’t provide much of a response there. However, I have heard rumblings that the administration and boosters want to give Coach Stoudamire the resources he needs to succeed. I think we will see if that’s truly the case very quickly.

GTalbatross: What happens if there is no mail in the bag?

Ben: It has never happened, but I have always said that if nobody asked any questions, we would simply ask questions and make you all answer them.