There are a lot of weird things that happen in college basketball. And in an offseason that seems to never end, each of those weird events only get exacerbated. It’s simply the nature of a sport that has so much off time and so many moving pieces.
And the Big Ten saw one of those weird events happen this week.
Like, a really, really weird event.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman made the surprising report that Michigan graduate transfer Andrew Dakich would be making the unusual decision of transferring to Ohio State for his final collegiate season. He had previously been slotted to go to Quinnipiac before Chris Holtmann became the new head coach at Ohio State.
A player transferring from Michigan to Ohio State. To put things lightly, that’s not exactly something you see every week.
But Dakich’s decision may actually make . . . sense?
Yes, as weird and as surprising as it may sound, Dakich’s decision makes sense on paper. And perhaps even more importantly, it could also have a significant impact on how the Buckeyes look next season.
Let’s start with the obvious. This is an unusual decision. Even if transferring has become the “norm” in college basketball, seeing a transfer go from a team to its arch-rival is not something that happens very often. Plus, when you add in that Dakich, by all accounts, had a great relationship with John Beilein and his staff, it gets even more unusual.
After all, who can forget this?
However, once you get past the unusual nature of this decision, things actually make a lot more sense. To start, Dakich was not going back to Michigan as a scholarship player. He had previously redshirted in order to get the opportunity to transfer for one final season as a scholarship player. So, for better or worse, he wasn’t going to be in Ann Arbor for the upcoming basketball season.
Realistically, Dakich will never play at the NBA level, but it’s hard to fault a player for wanting to contribute for his final collegiate season. He has been stuck on the bench for a Michigan team with a deep backcourt and would have been in the same situation next season as well. It’s not exactly crazy to want to see some playing time.
But, of course, the unusual nature of Dakich’s decision doesn’t arise from his decision to transfer, but from his destination. Wolverine fans are certainly asking why Dakich couldn’t have simply gone to a school that wasn’t Michigan’s arch-rival.
Well, let’s start with things off the top. Ohio State had scholarships to spare and a desperate situation in the backcourt. It’s not everyday that a Big Ten school is in that situation in mid-July. Instead of playing for a mid-major, there was a legitimate opportunity for Dakich to play for a major Big Ten program.
On top of that, Dakich also had a long standing relationship with Holtmann, who took over in Columbus just a few months ago. Simply put, Dakich went from a mid-major opportunity to a chance to play on scholarship at a Big Ten school with a coach who has built a relationship with him.
That’s not a crazy decision in the slightest.
And that decision could also help Ohio State significantly next season. The Buckeyes will have a rebuilding year next winter, but the team needs competent players in the backcourt and Dakich offers just that. He won’t suddenly put the team in NCAA Tournament contention, but he should help things, especially if a player goes down with injury at some point in the season.
There’s no debating that Dakich’s decision was an unusual one that will provoke a lot of strong reactions, but when you break it down, it largely makes sense. And it should only add that much more to Michigan and Ohio State’s matchups this season.