There are many reasons that a student may want to transfer away from Syracuse. Perhaps the tuition is too high. Maybe you would like to be closer to home. Searching for warmer weather makes sense as well.
However, prospective Syracuse men’s basketball transfers thinking that maybe the grass will be greener somewhere else, I offer you this advice: Many before you have tried and very few have succeeded.
We saw a recent mass exodus of transfers from Central New York in 2021, with Kadary Richmond, Quincy Guerrier, Woody Newton and Robert Braswell all departing from the program. I wrote about those four and how they fared during their first season away from Syracuse back in January if you would like to check that out, but I want to focus on their predecessors.
Prior to those four players exiting in 2021, Syracuse had lost five players via transfer over the previous five years: Brycen Goodine, Howard Washington, Jalen Carey, Taurean Thompson and Matthew Moyer.
Let’s just say that none of them made ‘Cuse regret letting them leave.
Thompson was one of the most surprising transfers of them all. He played significant minutes during his freshman season under Jim Boeheim. The 6’11” forward started 21 games and averaged 18 minutes per game, appearing in 34 games for the Orange that season. He shot an impressive 54.6 percent from the floor that year as well. It seemed like he was poised for an even bigger role his sophomore season.
He made a shocking decision to transfer just as the new semester was starting. It would come out later that Seton Hall actually violated NCAA transfer policies in a story that involved the program’s new head coach, Shaheen Holloway. Holloway, then head coach Kevin Willard and the school were all hit with some minor penalties for improper contact with Thompson’s mother while he was still at Syracuse.
As it turned out, it was a poor decision for Thompson. He played in 27 games during his junior season after sitting out his sophomore season as part of the NCAA’s transfer rule. He only averaged 10 points per game and saw his shooting plummet to 40 percent from the field. Thompson would only play three more games in his collegiate career: one the following season for the Pirates and then two as a graduate transfer for Detroit Mercy. He played more games in one season with SU than he did in the next four seasons. I still wonder what might have happened had he stayed in CNY.
Moyer actually had a similar freshman year to Thompson while at Syracuse. He appeared in 35 games for the Orange in 2017-18, starting 20 of them and averaging about 17 minutes per game. However, his playing time slipped down the stretch. He was a nonfactor in SU’s run to the Sweet 16. He decided to look elsewhere, ultimately landing at Vanderbilt.
Unlike Thompson though, Moyer stayed on the court. He played 56 games across his junior and senior seasons after sitting out his sophomore year because he transferred. However, his shooting percentage slipped from 53 percent with the Orange to about 32 percent for the Commodores. Still, he was a rotation player coming off the bench and earning the occasional spot start. His senior season was cut short by COVID. He went on to play an abridged graduate transfer year with George Washington.
He actually capitalized on that short stint at GW, starting all 12 games while averaging 10 points per contest. Moyer now plays professionally in Germany for the PS Karlsruhe Lions. While I would be hard pressed to say Syracuse truly missed Moyer after he left, I’m really glad to see he eventually landed on his feet.
Then there is Carey. He was a highly-touted guard from New York City, ranking as a top-100 recruit and one of the top guards in the nation. He never quite caught on at Syracuse, starting just two games for the Orange during his freshman season. As it turned out, Carey had a couple of key issues that drove Boeheim mad. He struggled to find his shot and managed to somehow turn the ball over 1.6 times per game despite only averaging 12 minutes a contest. For a frame of reference, that is 5.4 turnovers per 40 minutes played. Carey was quick to get yanked from the game, often landing in Boeheim’s proverbial dog house.
He stuck around for his sophomore season, but only appeared in two games. He suffered a thumb injury that ended his year. The NCAA granted him a medical redshirt and he suited up for Rhode Island in his junior season. Carey improved his shot selection and finally cut down the turnovers, at least a little bit. He averaged 16 minutes per game across his final two seasons. His senior season with the Rams ended back in March when URI fell to eventual NCAA tournament darling Richmond in the A-10 tournament. Carey will be returning to Rhode Island for redshirt senior season.
Carey was actually one of several guards to transfer from Syracuse during 2020. Brycen Goodine announced his decision just before Carey did, landing with Providence. The decision for Goodine came on the heels of a freshman season spent in a reserve role, only averaging eight minutes per game in what ended up being a COVID-shortened season. Goodine struggled to find his shooting stroke, most notably from behind the arc where he hit just 3 of his 24 attempts on the season.
Those shooting woes continued to plague him with the Friars. Goodine’s shooting percentage actually dipped from 30 percent as a freshman with Syracuse to 28.6 percent in his first season with Providence. He rebounded slightly this past year, knocking down 32 percent of his looks, but his minutes dropped from eight to five. Unsurprisingly, Goodine recently announced he is now looking to transfer again.
Joining Carey and Goodine in leaving the program that year was Howard Washington. Washington was a local-ish kid from Buffalo that joined the program as a bit of a project back in 2017. He was a three-star recruit that lacked ideal size to play in Power 5 basketball. Still, he found his way onto the court in some limited action as a freshman before his season was cut short by an ACL tear in practice. Washington then barely played as a sophomore, seeing action in just three early-season games. It turns out he had a stroke that fall as a result of a rare heart condition. Howard did still play after undergoing a series of procedures.
He saw more action as a junior, but injuries once again derailed his season. In September of 2020, Syracuse.com reported Washington was headed to South Alabama. However, Washington is not listed on South Alabama’s 2020-21 roster. He opted out of the season that December and apparently never returned. He is not listed on the 2021-22 roster either. His most recent stats are still listed as Syracuse in 2019-20. Perhaps he will pop up again in the future, but as of now, it appears that his college basketball career might be over.
In short, maybe there is a reason why these players aren’t getting too many minutes in Orange jerseys. Even when these players head off elsewhere, they do not make much of an impact on the court. Maybe that is a bit of a knock on Boeheim and his staff for not recognizing that in recruiting. However, I will also say that some of these players probably should have been more patient. Boeheim has developed guys like Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney and Marek Dolezaj into quality college players. Most did not feature much if at all during their freshman season. Sometimes, all it takes is a bit of patience and the ability to see the big picture.