Do we know how good Michael Gbinije is? We do not. The former Duke player -- who will transfer to Syracuse, as announced by that school this weekend -- didn't give us much to analyze in his freshman season. He made 19 appearances but averaged 5.8 minutes per game, in which he notched a whopping 1.7 points and 0.8 rebounds per contest. We do have some idea of Gbinije's talent: He was a touted incoming recruit for the Blue Devils, a top-30 player in the 2011 ESPNU 100, and clearly one who could make an impact before his Duke career came to a close.
Whether he could have done that at Duke -- where Miles Plumlee is graduating but junior Mason Plumlee will return for his senior season, and the youngest Plumlee, redshirt freshman Marshall, is waiting in the wings -- remains up for debate. There are two items of note about this transfer:
1. If Gbinije wanted to avoid a talented frontcourt -- if he was planning on playing right away -- then his decision to attend Syracuse seems slightly suspect. The Orange will have one of the deepest frontcourts in the country in 2012-13, with Rakeem Christmas and C.J. Fair and Baye Keita and even James Southerland, and two more incoming big men in center DeJuan Coleman (the nation's No. 14-ranked player) and power forward Jerami Grant, who ranks No. 37 in the class of 2012. Gbinije will have to sit out the customary transfer year, but depending on which Syracuse players shine in 2012-13, and which decide to leave for next summer's draft, he may find playing time in an Orange uniform just as hard to come by as it was in Durham, N.C.
2. Syracuse won't become a member of the ACC next season; along with Pittsburgh, the Orange have elected to wait until after the 2012-13 football and men's basketball seasons to try their much-ballyhooed and long-delayed (thanks to Big East exit protocols) leap to the ACC. But eventually, most likely within Gbinije's career at the school, Syracuse will face off with Duke as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Which means Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski just kind of, sort of -- gasp! -- allowed a player to transfer within his own league.
And yet frogs are not raining from the sky, and cats are not lying down with dogs. There is a distinct lack of mass hysteria involved here. In other words, Division I coaches of the world, there is a way to handle transfers like this in a particularly non-dramatic fashion. A thumbs-up to Coach K for allowing his player to transfer in decidedly straightforward fashion, despite the chance Gbinije could play against the Blue Devils at some undisclosed future time and place. Life goes on.