Rutgers’ Eugene Omoruyi has announced that he has put his name in the transfer portal. That news wasn’t quite a Beilein-to-the-Cavs offseason bombshell, but at least when you looked more closely at Beilein’s decision, you could see where it made sense. The more closely you look at the Omoruyi situation, though, the less sense it makes.
Here’s seven reasons why this situation is weird.
1. The Time Of Year Is Strange
Most players who transfer announce it shortly after their team’s season ends, or after the Final Four. Whatever made them unhappy at their current school had been bothering them for awhile. Sometimes there are changes like a new coach or a parent getting sick, but that isn’t the case here. Who waits until late May to decide to transfer? What changed?
2. The Time Of Day Was Strange
The announcement was made on Omoruyi’s Instagram account—which isn’t strange; that’s what the kids are using nowadays—but it was posted around midnight. Either Omoruyi posted it while he was out partying or he posted it right before he went to sleep. Again, that’s not how these things are usually done. The result was several early morning hours of confusion before we got confirmation that yep, the announcement was real.
3. He Misspelled His Coach’s Name In The Announcement
Steve Pikiell has the most difficult-to-spell name of any coach in the Big Ten, but you’d think that a guy who played for him for three years would know how to spell it by now. Especially somebody like Omoruyi, who probably gets his own name misspelled more often than the average player. Either Omoruyi is dumb (which I don’t think is the case), was in a hurry, was in a chemically-altered state, or he meant it as an intentional slight to the coach who has said nothing but good things about him for three years. Maybe there’s a possibility I’m not considering, but none of the plausible ones speak well of how Omoruyi handled this.
4. Omoruyi Is Not Graduating
OK, so the timing might have made sense if it turned out that Omoruyi was waiting to hear if he got enough credits to graduate. He could be a grad transfer and play immediately. As of the time that this article was written, there’s been no word that that’s the case. It appears that Omoruyi will be a sit-one-play-one transfer. In other words, to get the services of Eugene Omoruyi for one year—a player who has been somewhat injury-prone over the course of his career—a team will have to give him a scholarship for two years. This isn’t Sam Hauser where that tradeoff is obviously worth it.
5. Omoruyi Was Going To Be A Senior Captain Next Year
Omoruyi is the closest thing the Steve Pikiell era has had to a rock. He’s the foundation the program has built itself on. He’s improved a lot and earned his coach’s praise at every step along the way. In other words, there’s no way that Omoruyi wasn’t going to be a senior captain and the undisputed leader of the Scarlet Knights next season.
6. ...On Rutgers’ First Winning Team In Forever
When Omoruyi committed to Rutgers, they were really bad. Like, seven wins in the previous season bad. Over the course of three years, they’ve improved from horrendous to respectable. While they’ve climbed in KenPom from 279 to 135, then to 130, then to 78 last year, the Scarlet Knights still haven’t had an overall winning record since 2006. That looked really likely to change for 2020. T-Rank projects them to go 17-13. To use a Shawshank analogy, why would a guy crawl through a river of shit and then not take a moment to spread his arms and let the sweet rain fall down on him?
7. Rutgers Has A Game Scheduled In His Hometown Next Season
Omoruyi is from Rexdale, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. How many college basketball teams play a game in Toronto? Not many! But Rutgers is one of them next season. They’ll face St. Bonaventure in the James Naismith Classic on November 16.
One Sentence Summary
Eugene Omoruyi had a chance to lead his team, a team that has improved by leaps and bounds over the past three seasons in no small part due to his contributions, into his hometown as a senior captain, but he decided to turn down that opportunity, to hope that there’s a school out there that wants him bad enough to give up two years of a scholarship for one year of basketball, and to announce that decision at midnight in late May on an Instagram post in which he spelled his coach’s name incorrectly.
Weird, weird, weird.
Maybe we’ll get more of the story at some point, but for now all you can do is shake your head and wonder if Rutgers basketball will ever get to have nice things.