TAMPA — The transactions coming and going pile up across the country, not unlike free agency in pro sports. NCAA basketball could have more than 500 players transferring from one program to another before the offseason is finished.
For all the instability and uncertainty a fluid roster can create, count USF's Stan Heath as one coach who says he understands the fickle nature of young players and, to some extent, has built his success both with the help of such transfers and despite them.
"It's not a negative. I look at it as a positive situation where somebody can get better," Heath said. "I have a chance to improve my team with a transfer if it's the right fit. And normally, when a kid is on his second chance, I think he looks at the next opportunity as, 'I have to make this work.' So the attitude is different."
This past season, Heath's Bulls won two games in the NCAA Tournament with three starters who began their careers at other major programs then sat out the NCAA-required two semesters: Ron Anderson at Kansas State, Augustus Gilchrist at Maryland and Victor Rudd at Arizona State. Conversely, Heath has lost 15 scholarship players during his five-year tenure.
Heath said he doesn't take it personally when a player asks to leave after only a season or two — usually seeking more minutes — accepting it's hardly an attitude limited to college basketball.
"They are extremely impatient. It's the fast-food model. Everybody wants it now. Nobody wants to wait," he said. "That's unfortunate, but that's not a basketball thing. It's the way our youth are being developed. It's a society thing that we have to look into."
Most of Heath's transfers left after a single season of limited minutes, and all left for programs in less-challenging leagues. Players who totaled a few dozen points at USF might be double-digit scorers elsewhere, and Heath said he is glad to see that.
"A high percentage of the kids that left here, I've looked at their career and said, 'Man, they made a good decision. They've had success,' " Heath said. "You know you can't play 13 guys. Somebody's not going to be happy, and you have to understand that. I don't take it personally at all. I've never held a kid back."
There can be ramifications for a school with regard to APR scores, which measure a program's ability to keep players academically eligible and retained in school. A player leaving with a grade point average of 2.6 or lower can hurt a team's APR, which can affect a program's scholarship allotment and postseason eligibility.
Heath said he has never prevented players from transferring until they reach that GPA, as other coaches have acknowledged doing.
Other state programs have benefited from transfers. Florida's Mike Rosario came from Rutgers, and Florida State's Jeff Peterson had stints at Iowa and Arkansas.
Jeff Goodman, who covers NCAA basketball for CBSSports.com, compiles a national list of transfers each year. With more than 400 players already doing so, he expects the number to reach 500 before summer's end.
The trend continues at USF as well. The emergence of freshman point guard Anthony Collins this past season prompted two other point guards to request their release to transfer. Heath has another transfer who could start next season in Martino Brock, a forward from South Alabama. And he picked up a commitment this week from Kore White, a graduate transfer from Florida Atlantic who will play one season for the Bulls.
"Everybody looks at it differently," Heath said. "There have been a couple of kids I wish had stayed. I tried to talk them into staying. But if they really want to go, I would never hold anyone here that didn't want to be here."