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To Stay or Go: The Grass Isn't Always Greener...

Let me preface this article with the fact that I do realize that there are certain extenuating circumstances that are unavoidable, and I understand that there is a unique story for each situation.

However, I feel that far too often, in modern day basketball and life, at the first sign of anything difficult or unexpected, parents and players are looking to run from the situation. Specifically, we see this time and time again at both the high school and college level when it comes to transferring to new programs. Although I think there is a certain obligation of the program, when recruiting is involved, to be honest and give all facts to those they are recruiting, many times players end up transferring (giving up) before they even attempt to overcome the obstacles. First, lets look at 4 main reasons why players jump from team to team and school to school.

1) I’m not being showcased enough

Right off the bat, more often than not, this is caused by two things, not knowing who you are as a player (or the parent of a player), and jealously of those players who are premier scorers (go to guys). More often than not, especially at the high school level, I see parents that have a marginal understanding of the game of basketball commenting on who should be the ones taking the shots. Shocker, it is usually the parents son or daughter. I can’t really blame them. If I didn’t really understand basketball, and my son was more of a screen setter or a charge take (which are two things that are equally as important as scoring), I’d want to see my kid get in the newspaper too. The reality of the situation is, there are only 5 players on the court, and only one person can shoot the basketball at a time. NEWSFLASH, coaches are some of the most competitive people you will ever meet, and if you son or daughter shooting the ball is going to help them win, then the majority of coaches will at least attempt to put your son or daughter in a position to help them score and win!

2) I’m playing out of position

This was a situation that I experienced first hand, and with any thought whatsoever could easily be avoided. In my specific circumstance, we had an 8th grader who was about 6’4 with a legitimate back to the basket game. However, this highly skilled player, also had a developing guard skill set that could often be used to exploit bigger, slower opponents. Like most coaches, who have any idea how to utilize a versatile player like this, we decided to put him in whatever situation was going to give him the greatest opportunity to score. Apparently this wasn’t good enough. According to this player and this player’s parents, he was a 2 guard, and we shouldn’t be posting him up. Our response was obvious, “So you are telling us you’d rather score less points, get less rebounds, and have less success, just to say you are a 2 and float around the perimeter?” It seems idiotic, but more and more players are overanalyzing what position they are playing, rather than realizing that the object is to put yourself and your team in the best situation to score, every, single, possession. When you have a size advantage on a player, regardless of position, ala Magic Johnson in the post, use it to dominate your opponent! This is where having a higher IQ will help the player and parents understand that running from the situation may not be the smartest idea.

3) My coach yells and picks on me

I don’t in any way shape or form condone bullying as a coach, and I think a lot of coaches abuse their power and authority. With this being said, there is a certain level of motivation that comes with coaching, and too often parents and players would rather be babied and never get better, than let there coach do what they are supposed to do, COACH them. If you don’t want your coach to push you to the limit and stretch your abilities by attacking your weakness than you don’t deserve to be playing the game of basketball. In the modern wussification of society, parents, players, and media are just waiting for the moment when a coach yells at his or her team, to claim harassment and maltreatment. Lets get real, the majority of the players who are having issues with the coaches, and transferring out or running from the problems, are the players who are not playing or the ones who’s parents aren’t happy with the BASKETBALL product that is on the floor. If you ask me, a tough coach is the only true parent this player is getting, while the parents of the players allow there son or daughter to blame the coach for everything rather than looking in the mirror. Once again, let me reiterate the fact that under no circumstances is bullying, or harassing a player needed, acceptable, or justifiable, but at the first sign of a coach who is going to challenge you or your son or daughter, don’t flee and look for an easier alternative.

4) I want to go play for a better team

Ask any low or mid-major Division one basketball coach, and there are very few things as frustrating as the 5th year transfer rule. This rule allows players that have graduated from a specific school in four years, but still have another year of eligibility left, to transfer out of the current program and into, most often a bigger better school, for the 5th year of schooling and basketball. The thought behind this rule is hypothetically, if a player is looking to major in a specific subject that the current school has, they should be allowed to go to a school that offers that major. However, this is being used now as a plucking ground for big programs who are looking for late fillers, and it is leaving the schools that took all the time, energy, and sweat to develop the player in the dust. Simply put, the boy who was ugly and only one girl would date him, is now in a situation where he is being asked to prom by a beautiful girl that he barely knows and of course he is saying yes!! The problem with this is the fact that the player would never have been near the player he turned out to be without the managers, coaches, and people in the community at the original school he went to. Gone are the days of loyalty to those who have spent countless hours developing and cultivating you as a person and player. This is also seen often at the High School level. As soon as a player gets a national reputation, the immediate question is where is that player playing next year? How about staying and giving back to the coach that helped you become who you are?! How about getting THAT coach a state championship? Sometimes, in certain situations, this may help you, but if you are good enough to get to the next level, then you will get there. Don’t overhype the hype.


Times are not always going to be perfect in anything you do in life, especially athletics. There are too many variables and people involved. However, when times get rough, both parents and players, need to understand that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. In many cases you end up putting your son or daughter in a situation where they are never truly comfortable or relaxed because they are continually trying to learn new people, coaches, and atmospheres. Sometimes you don’t really know what your capable of until you overcome those difficult situations, rather than always running at the first sign of conflict.

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