Mar 25, 2020

OK, I got that other post out of the way, so I'm ready to talk about the transfers (I think), but I still don't think I can do it without pausing for long paragraphs about how the season is unlikely and I don't know how scholarships limits will apply. So this is going to be another one of those rambling, doesn't-really-get-anywhere-but-asks-a-lot-of-questions posts. If you don't like those, please skip it.

First off, I think the most important article I read today was this one about the Atalanta-Valencia Champions League matchup in February. It really drove home every part of this crisis and showed how a sporting event can be a perfect storm:

  • Because those with coronavirus can be asymptomatic, there can be fans in the stands who have it, and are spreading it, and don't even feel sick.
  • A packed stadium is a public health expert's worst nightmare. In the article they call it a "biological bomb" - fans standing shoulder to shoulder and screaming, filing in and out, arriving long before and staying long after, filling bars and restaurants.
  • In addition to that, the stadium in Bergamo, Italy was too small for UEFA guidelines so this matchup had to take place in Milan. So not only are the home fans spreading it, they're taking it from Bergamo to Milan.
  • There were also traveling fans from Spain who made the trip to see Valencia. They took it back to Spain, where Valencia became a hotspot. Even the players fell ill, with 35% of Valencia's team catching COVID-19.

This just further drives home for me that we've probably seen the last of sporting events until an approved treatment or a vaccine is found. At the very least, the events will take place without fans. But even then, how can you hold a college football game with 200 players and know that there isn't one asymptomatic player transferring the virus to 40 others during the game? Perhaps there's some kind of test at that point which every player has to clear before participating? Even then, can you be assured they didn't touch a door handle with the virus on the way to the field?

Several studies I've seen suggest that between 40% and 70% of people will, at some point (maybe now, maybe September of 2021) get the virus. The restrictions put into place right now are to attempt to spread out that 40-70% over 18 months so to not overwhelm the healthcare system. So in those 18 months, I just cannot see any way we'll see a live sporting event. As I said yesterday, maybe there are things I'm not understanding (the summer weather will mute the virus, at some point there's "herd immunity" and we no longer have to worry about mass gatherings, etc.). I certainly hope this is just a "remember back in March and April of 2020 that was a crazy time" kind of thing. But if we're headed for 18 months of this (play four corners and run out the clock on coronavirus spikes until a vaccine is found), then we're not going to see sporting events for a long time.

And that means that every single sports thing I desire to discuss filters back through this understanding. I will now give you an example.

Alan Griffin announced last night that he's transferring. Tevian Jones announced this afternoon that he's transferring. That leaves a very big hole on the wing, but... does it matter? We'll probably have 18 months to fill it. Entire rosters will just sit around and wait until November of 2021 so we will be able to fill these spots with 2020 transfers and 2021 recruits and 2021 transfers.

Of course, what happens with players "declaring for the draft" if there's no draft? Or what if there is a draft but there's no NBA until October of 2021. Does the NBA do a second draft if there wasn't a 2020/21 college basketball season? Is it then much smarter for players to declare immediately and we see Kofi declare? Or might it be smarter to wait this out and we see Ayo return? But if he returns, what is he returning to? The 2021-22 season when he'd technically be a senior but likely be a junior if the NCAA suspends all eligibility for 18 months?

With all of these questions in my head, it's just so hard to talk about what this means. It's similar to the feeling when Cubit was the interim coach. If you were a reader at the time, you know that I suspended all "Looks Like University Of Illinois" posts for recruits while the Beckman investigation was going on because I didn't see any way those players would still be part of the program in the future. The Beckman decision would be made, and then we'd either have Beckman or an interim (likely an interim), and then the interim would be let go, and a new coach would be named, and maybe 4 recruits would remain, and THEN I would write about the players who picked Illinois.

That's the same feeling I have when thinking through Griffin and Jones. How can I talk about what it means when there's so many variables? (If my wife is reading this - she's not - she's giving the "do you see what I have to live with?" motion with her hands.)

OK, I got that out of the way. I'll just talk about it like we're going to have a season next year. And I think it's pretty simple: their replacements are already on the roster. Griffin will be replaced by Austin Hutcherson, and Jones will be replaced by Jacob Grandison. No, it's not Hutchison and Granderson, even though we're going to hear that from 11 different announcers next year (AHEM - in two years) when college basketball returns. It's Hutcherson and Grandison.

To recap, Hutcherson was the Division III transfer who sat out this season. Had a huge freshman year, put his name out there, got offers from schools like Notre Dame and Creighton, and picked Illinois. He's very Griffin-y - long and lanky, reportedly shoots the ball well, etc. The big question: when he makes the leap from Division III to Division I, will he fit right in (like Duncan Robinson at Michigan) or will he be in way over his head? We shall see.

Grandison is the Holy Cross transfer who also sat out this season. He's probably on the Tevian Jones end of the guard/forward spectrum, and will likely get the minutes Jones was going to get (and perhaps was going to be getting those minutes anyway) in a Kipper-ish role. Maybe calling it an Aaron Jordan-ish role is better - probably a wing that's equal parts guard and forward but there he is playing the 4 again.

There's also the possibility that we land a transfer. With two guys going out, it's one open scholarship now, two if Ayo declares for the NBA. With so many names in the transfer portal, you'd have to think we'll land some.

(But seriously - do you hang onto those scholarships for now and see how all this craziness works itself out? Would it be better to save that scholarship for what might be an 18-month, two-class recruiting class? Sorry I'll stop.)

The takeaway here, I think, is that the answer to "where do Hutcherson and Grandison fit in next year - both are fighting for some Kipper minutes?" are now as simple as this:

Trent is still Trent
Miller and Curbelo replace Ayo and Feliz
Da'Monte is still Da'Monte
Hutcherson and Grandison replace Griffin and Jones
BBV, Hamlin, and Hawkins fight over Kipper minutes
Giorgi is still Giorgi
Kofi is still Kofi

Seems pretty simple for now.



1970 John on March 26 @ 10:30 AM CDT

The next question: What happens to the next wave? If today's players are allowed to stick around longer, what happens to the kids in high school now? Where are they going to go? Yes, you've increased the scholarship numbers, but they'll only allow five on the court at a time.

Gonna need a longer bench.

Robert on March 26 @ 01:44 PM CDT

Right - that's my whole point. Each time I think about any current issue, all of those "but what would you even do with the scholarship numbers?" questions get in the way. If college sports return in the fall, then the only question for the NCAA is what to do with the winter sports seniors who didn't get to complete their seasons + the spring sports seniors who have already been given another year of eligibility.

If the fall season is lost because of a fear of a second wave of spikes, then what do you do with 25-man football recruiting classes coming in with all players possibly retaining eligibility? Would we go to Ireland in 2021 with a roster of 110 scholarship players?

All of my "that's only if X happens" disclaimers above obviously apply to all of this, and hopefully we don't have to worry about it. But if we do and we lose sports for 18 months, I have no idea how they'll sort it all out.

Sweetchuck13 on March 27 @ 08:42 AM CDT

Not only that, but if there's not college basketball - who's to say there's high school basketball or even AAU travel tournaments?

What does recruiting look like when no one is actually playing? Kind of mind-boggling possibilities.

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