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Thursday, May 9, 2013
Coveted transfers still up for grabs

By Jason King
ESPN.com

Tarik Black
Duke, Kansas and Georgetown are among the high-profile teams courting Tarik Black.

Tarik Black doesn't want to talk. At least not yet.

Duke, Kansas, Oregon and Georgetown are among the high-profile programs courting the 6-foot-9, 260-pound forward. But as he crisscrosses the country taking tours of various campuses, Black refuses to offer any insight into why he's considering certain schools or which programs he likes the most.

Not that he's being rude about it.

"I will not be doing any interviews during this process," Black told ESPN.com in a text message Tuesday. "But thank you for the acknowledgement."

A mature, professional response, to be sure. And that shouldn't come as a surprise. Black, after all, has been through this before.

As one of the most highly recruited players in the nation coming out of high school in 2010, Black experienced the pressures and attention that go along with being a wanted man. Now he's going through it again following his decision to leave Memphis after three seasons to play his final year of college for another institution.

Any player of Black's ilk would demand attention, but this spring he's part of an even more coveted breed. Instead of sitting out a season under NCAA rules, Black is among a group of transfers who will be eligible to play next season.

An NCAA rule implemented before the 2011-12 season states that players who have completed their undergraduate coursework before their eligibility expires can transfer and be eligible immediately at their new school.

The situation makes Black highly attractive to programs looking to fill a void in the paint. Other graduate student transfers creating a buzz this offseason include UNLV's Mike Moser, Tulane's Josh Davis, Marshall's DeAndre Kane and Arizona State's Evan Gordon.

Kane has committed to Pittsburgh and Moser is headed to Oregon, where he'll help make up for some of the rebounding the Ducks lost with the graduation of Tony Woods and Arsalan Kazemi.

"For us [the rule] has been very beneficial," Oregon coach Dana Altman said, "because it allows us to fill an immediate need on our team."

Altman has had success with graduate student transfers in the past, as Jay-R Strowbridge (2010-11) and Olu Ashaolu (2011-12) both played key roles in Oregon's success.

"They're older and more mature," Altman said. "You know that education is important to them, because they've finished their degrees. Plus, they pick things up more quickly. They've been around the college game, so when you're talking about a scouting report or you're talking about a certain cut, they're all familiar with it."

Mike Moser
Mike Moser is the latest transfer Dana Altman has lured to Oregon.

Moser, who also considered Gonzaga and Washington, said Oregon's success with transfers was one of the key reasons he chose the Ducks. Still, he said the decision to leave UNLV was a difficult one.

"It wears on you a little bit," said Moser, who is currently finishing up his undergraduate coursework at UNLV. "I'm leaving so many close friends and really almost family that I've developed down here. They've taken care of me the last three years. This was home. It was hard, but it was something I had to do."

Moser averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds as a sophomore at UNLV, but an elbow injury in December of last season caused Moser's production (7.1 points, 6.1 boards) to take a serious hit.

He's hoping to get back on track at Oregon, where family members from his native Portland can travel to watch him play in person. Moser plans to enroll this summer and is confident he'll be able to pick up Altman's system by the time the season starts in the fall.

"There will be some bumps, I'm sure," Moser said. "But I've been doing this long enough now to realize that, hey, it's just basketball. A few tweaks and adjustments, and I'll be just fine."

Beneficial as they can often be, the transition from one team to the next isn't always smooth for graduate student transfers. Some are forced to accept lesser roles. Other times their responsibilities change -- or maybe they don't end up being as productive as they'd hoped.

Two years after winning an NCAA title at Connecticut, Alex Oriakhi transferred to Missouri last fall. Tigers coach Frank Haith said it took Oriakhi about 10-12 games before he felt comfortable in Missouri's system.

"The role that you play for three years may not be the same as the role you're going to play for that one year at your new school," Haith said. "It's totally different than getting a one-and-done guy out of high school. They have no role. They're coming in and saying, 'I'll fit in wherever.'

"The grad students … they were ingrained to do things differently. It can be a bit of a war to get them to fit into the role you want them to play for your team. It's not always easy. From a coaching standpoint, it can be hard."

Still, Haith hardly regrets taking Oriakhi, who averaged 11.2 points and 8.4 rebounds for a 23-win team. Whoever signs Black this spring will be thrilled if he puts up those types of numbers in 2013-14.

Davis -- who averaged 17.6 points and 10.5 rebounds at Tulane last season -- is hoping for a chance to shine on a bigger stage. He's considering San Diego State and Gonzaga.

Kane should provide an immediate boost to Pittsburgh's backcourt after averaging 15.1 points and seven assists at Marshall last season.

Gordon, whose decision to transfer wasn't announced until Wednesday, scored 10.1 points per game for Arizona State as a junior. Gordon's father said his son would likely transfer to a school within 200 miles of his native Indianapolis.

Michael Dixon
Off-court concerns has limited the number of suitors for Michael Dixon.

As valuable as those players could be for their new programs, arguably no potential transfer this offseason could impact a team as much as former Missouri guard Michael Dixon, who is in a completely different situation.

Dixon, who has one year of eligibility remaining, has yet to complete his undergraduate coursework. But he's still hoping to receive a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play immediately at his new school.

Dixon was kicked off Missouri's squad in November after a female student accused him of sexual assault, the second such claim made against Dixon since January 2010.

Boone County prosecutors, though, determined that a police investigation lacked sufficient evidence to even interview Dixon in the second case, and the first alleged victim declined to press charges against him. Dixon declined to comment when reached by ESPN.com this week, but he has maintained his innocence on Twitter. Haith also declined to comment, but it's no secret that he supports his former guard.

"No charges were brought against Michael Dixon," said Kim English, Dixon's former teammate at Missouri. "He's never even had a conversation with any police department. He was just told he couldn't play his senior year for a program he helped rebuild.

"Your name is all you have. His name wasn't presented in a good light, and the court of public opinion is awfully condemning. I know he's looking for a chance to right the ship."

Sources said schools such as Memphis, Purdue, Oklahoma, Louisville and Houston inquired about Dixon after the season, but the schools currently showing the most interest are East Carolina, Baylor, Colorado and Loyola Marymount. Dixon visited East Carolina last weekend.

Dixon's family is hopeful the NCAA will grant their son a waiver similar to the one obtained last fall by Dez Wells, who was expelled from Xavier amid sexual assault allegations but was never charged. He was allowed to play right away at Maryland and led the Terrapins in scoring last season.

Dixon has spent this semester taking online coursework through a junior college. He plays pickup games in various gyms throughout his native Kansas City and has even been spotted at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence in recent weeks scrimmaging with members of the Kansas Jayhawks.

Dixon averaged 13.5 points and 3.3 assists as a junior in 2011-12.

"A coach will never be able to say that Mike is dogging it or that he isn't working hard or going full speed," English said. "Everything he does is at game speed. He's a grinder. He's fearless. He's the best teammate I ever had.

"Mike wants to win a national championship. I don't see him going to a Tennessee Tech or anything. I see him going to a place where he can compete for a national title."