Storrs has been called the Basketball Capital of The World for good reason. UConn men’s, and women’s basketball is one of the nation’s premier basketball programs, bringing in top talent every season. However not all the talent can last, whether it’s on or off the court related, players transferring for greener pastures is part of NCAA basketball. This season many former Huskies who didn’t stick instead made impacts elsewhere around the country, but found the same level of team success has eluded most.
Rakim Lubin, who saw marginal playing time for the Huskies in the 2015-2016 campaign, has been a contributor for Cal State Northridge this season. He played in their first 23 games, starting 11 of them and averaged 8.5 points-per-game and 5.2 rebounds-per-game, before an injury ended his season in early February. The 6’8” forward from Miami will still have two more years of eligibility for the Matadors.
Leon Tolksdorff, a German forward who left UConn after two seasons and a national championship, is wrapping up his college career at American University. Like Lubin, Tolksdorf had his season cut short by injury but was averaging 2.9 points-per-game for the Eagles despite starting 14 games.
Arguably the most notable defection on the men’s side, former contributor in the 2014 National Championship Terrence Samuel is playing for Penn State as a junior after sitting out last season. He has played in 25 games for the underachieving Nittany Lions, averaged 4.1 points-per-game in 17.4 minutes-per-game and has seen game action dwindle down the stretch.
Lastly, Sam Cassell Jr., the most recent transfer, has been starring in his last season at Iona College. Cassell Jr., who is a graduate transfer and was immediately eligible after playing for UConn last season, has been a key part of the Gael’s success this season. He has started 28 of the 31 games he’s played and is third in scoring at 11.3 points-per-game while shooting 37 percent from the three. The Gaels are currently third in the MAAC but have a reasonable chance at winning their conference tournament and getting Cassell Jr. one more opportunity in the NCAA Championship.
On the women’s side, Penn State is even more of a popular destination. Brianna Banks was on the team last season and the Nittany Lions’ currently have De’Janae Boykin, who left UConn before even playing in a game last year. Boykin, who became eligible once the second semester started, averaged 4.7 points-per-game before a lower leg/ankle injury caused her to sit out the remainder of the season.
Sadie Edwards, a Meriden, Conn. native, left the Huskies early in her career as well. She is now in her second season on the West Coast, playing for the USC Trojans who are last in the Pac-12 conference this season. Edwards has started 21 of their 29 games at guard as a junior, averaging 9.3 points per game and 1.8 assists per game.
Courtney Ekmark, who played on the previous two National Championship teams, left after last season to play for Arizona State. Ekmark came in the same high-touted recruiting class with Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams but never found the same success or playing time as her peers. She is currently sitting out the mandated year off and will resume playing for the Sun Devils next season.
Matt Barresi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.