On Tuesday, Gopher basketball announced that junior Charles Buggs will transfer for his final year of eligibility. Buggs will graduate this summer and seek another program at which to finish his collegiate career. He'll be eligible to play immediately under the NCAA's graduate transfer rule.
For Gopher basketball, it's another unfortunate off the floor event (although not a scandalous one) in an already busy and trying off season. Buggs will now join Kevin Dorsey, who also announced his decision to transfer from the program.
For Gopher fans and the rest of us who have watched a lot of Minnesota basketball recently, Buggs' departure highlights unfulfilled possibilities. Buggs possessed incredible physical gifts; a long-armed, 6'9", 230-pound athlete who credibly could guard three or four positions, when engaged, and also has range to the three point line.
But even with all those physical attributes, last season at least, he drifted in games at times and only showed flashes of his athletic ability and true potential. He only ended up shooting 32 percent from three last year and was limited to 5.9 points per game in 24 minutes an outing. Unfortunately, he was never consistent from three, nor did he appear to fully commit defensively at times. Offensively, in addition to his streaky shooting, he never attacked the basket like someone with his size and athleticism should've or could've.
It boils down to a missed opportunity, or put another way, unrealized potential. But it's hard to fully blame Buggs. He's the last recruit from the Tubby Smith era and Gopher basketball hasn't exactly been a fertile ground of player growth and development.
Buggs leaving is a loss (on paper it's 24 minutes to be distributed). We can argue about how meaningful those minutes are, particularly on a team that just went 8-23 overall, but Richard Pitino will have options on the wing. Freshmen Eric Curry and Michael Hurt, as well as transfers Davonte Fitzgerald and Akeem Springs, should all get a crack to fill the void. Most think they'll do so without issue, some even speculate that Buggs wouldn't have been much of a factor next season or would've at least had to really earn his minutes.
For Buggs, perhaps he sees a crowded perimeter. Or maybe he sees a changing of the guard with the influx of transfers and a highly-touted recruiting class. Or maybe he wants to disengage from the mess that has been Gopher basketball the last three months and get a fresh start. All in all these all seem like plausible scenarios, so it's hard to blame him from transferring out of the program.
As for Pitino and the Gophers, the roster turnover continues. (I believe I declared several weeks ago that the roster tumult is probably at an end. So, what do I know?) Buggs leaving does open another scholarship, but I'm not sure how likely it is that Pitino will fill the roster slot at this late of a date. With other swirling issues, he may just move forward with his current group.
Sometimes a player transfer doesn't signify underlying controversy or a major scandal, sometimes a transfer is just a transfer. For Buggs, it might just mean a fresh start for a player who needs a change of scenery and is looking for a positive, productive end to his basketball career. While the move makes sense for the forward, it's still another issue the Gophers will have to deal with in what has been a dreadful offseason so far.