North Texas Daily

Basketball transfers making strides in preparation for next season

Basketball transfers making strides in preparation for next season

February 25
00:16 2016

Alex Lessard | Associate Sports Editor

@alexjlessard

Deciding which university to attend can be a stressful and risky process for prospective student athletes. Whether it’s too far from home, a lack of playing time or simply a bad fit with the coaching staff and teammates, there are countless things that could go wrong at a player’s first choice.

Luckily, if things don’t work out, athletes can transfer somewhere else however many times they want as long as they are still students. But once a player enrolls in classes at a new school, the NCAA requires them to sit out one full year before becoming eligible to play.

For junior guard J-Mychal Reese, the wait was even more daunting. He announced his decision to transfer in June of 2014, but his eligibility clock didn’t start until classes began in August.

“It was really frustrating, especially cutting on the TV, seeing all the college games. Basketball [in general], period,” Reese said. “I just missed being a part of it, actually suiting up to play on game day instead of watching.”

Until the 2015-16 season began, Reese could do everything except travel and play in games, including full participation in team practices and workouts. Keeping a hard-working mentality and looking to improve every day helped the time pass, but Reese said the wait to get back on the court felt like it lasted five years.

Junior guard Keith Frazier is eligible to play December of next season for the North Texas' men's basketball team after trasnferring from Southern Methodist Univeristy. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Junior guard Keith Frazier is eligible to play December of next season for the North Texas’ men’s basketball team after trasnferring from Southern Methodist Univeristy. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

This season, there are two men’s basketball players experiencing Reese’s exact situation: junior guard Keith Frazier (Southern Methodist University) and freshman guard Ryan Woolridge (University of San Diego). Since arriving, each has watched Reese closely to get a feel for how he plays and manages the game, all while actively listening to any advice he may have for how to get through the year without eligibility.

“Before you know it, you’ll be putting on your jersey to play,” Reese said. “You got to be ready when the time comes. You can sit out a year or a year and a half for no reason, so you got to make it count.”

Head coach Tony Benford said bringing in a mixture of high school recruits and transfers each season has provided a good balance of youth and experience to the Mean Green during his tenure. In Reese’s case, Benford made sure to encourage him and give him prominent responsibilities in practice, allowing him to become a floor general this season.

After Reese took advantage of his opportunities in practice for a calendar year, Benford even named Reese a team captain before playing a single game for North Texas.

“I always tell my guys when they sit out, you approach every practice like it’s a game,” Benford said. “So every day is a game day for you. That’s the mindset that you’ve got to have to be prepared mentally when you are ready to play the following year.”

On the women’s side, junior guard Stabresa McDaniel (University of Minnesota) as well as sophomore guards Terriell Bradley (University of Kansas) and Tyara Warren (West Virginia University) have all watched the season unfold as ineligible players this season. And with three seniors departing, there will be plenty of playing time for the transfers next year.

Warren, who also sat out her senior year of high school after tearing her ACL, said she’s enjoyed the family-oriented culture and team chemistry at North Texas, but still experiences the downsides of only being allowed to practice against her teammates.

“It’s helpful, but you’re not going to be playing against them in conference next year,” Warren said. “You can’t really judge yourself based upon them, so I can’t really tell how much better I’m getting.”

North Texas junior guard J-Mychal Reese (52) is one of the basketball transfers, coming from Texas A&M University. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

North Texas junior guard J-Mychal Reese (52) is one of the basketball transfers, coming from Texas A&M University. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

According to Bradley, transitioning from seeing nearly 20 minutes a game as a Jayhawk to becoming a full-time scout team player has been tough, but getting to sit back and watch the Mean Green’s games without having to worry about her own performance has been beneficial.

“Sitting on the bench, you can see maybe what they don’t see. It’s a different perspective,” Bradley said. “You get a better feel for your teammates and see where you would fit in to the whole team next year.”

The attention and motivation Benford and women’s head coach Jalie Mitchell give to each transfer is imperative for growth and improvement, but each player’s fate ultimately lies in their own hands. Benford said most of the transfers he’s been around and coached in his career have made good decisions and finished their careers on a high note, but staying positive is key, especially when it comes to former top recruits. 

“It’s a chance to write a new chapter,” Benford said. “There’s always going to be bumps in the road in life, in your personal life, professional life. You got to keep working hard, stay positive, and you will overcome it. But you’ve got to believe you will.”

Featured Image: Redshirted sophomore guards Tyara Warren (1) from West Virgina University and Terriell Bradley (13) from the Univeristy of Kansas are two of the three women’s basketball transfers. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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