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Current men's college basketball coaches on why they transferred as players
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MyBB Current men's college basketball coaches on why they transferred as players

Andy Kennedy (UAB Blazers)
High school All-American; started at NC State in 1986, playing for legendary head coach Jim Valvano; transferred to UAB in 1987; sat out the 1987-88 season due to NCAA rules for transfers at the time; played three seasons at UAB; averaged 18.8 PPG from 1988 to 1991; led the Sun Belt in scoring in 1990-91, averaging 21.8 PPG.

Why did you decide to transfer as a college athlete?

Think about this: Jimmy [Valvano] won the national title with the Cardiac Pack [NC State] against Phi Slama Jama [Houston] on the Lorenzo Charles putback dunk in 1983. I go there in '86. Jimmy V was such a pioneer. I tell this to people all the time. He really was ahead of his time. All the money that us coaches are being afforded now, the on- and off-the-court opportunities, really, Jimmy V was one of the pioneers in that avenue.

He was the athletic director [at NC State]. He was the head basketball coach. He had his own companies. He had his own brand. He was creating products. He was endorsing everything. He was getting paid for speeches. In the mid-'80s, those were things that were foreign to coaches.

So I went [to NC State], and I was part of an ACC [tournament] championship team. I was playing behind a guy named Vinny Del Negro [first team all-ACC in 1988, future NBA standout], who ended up being a 12-year pro. And I was just a dumb***, honestly. God rest [Valvano's] soul, if it gives him any peace, my knuckleheaded-ness, thinking I was better than I was and being impatient. I deal with it 10 times a year, every year now, so it's coming back to me 100 percent.

And there was the distance. [Editor's note: Kennedy was born and raised in Mississippi.] My grandmother on my mother's side was ill. My parents had been avid supporters [of my career]. For the first time, I could see that they couldn't be involved in the process or the experience because of the distance. So distance, frustration, immaturity, all led me to say, "Hey man, I'm going to change and get back closer to home and change my vibe a bit."

How difficult was the decision?

We won the ACC tournament championship in 1987, so it wasn't like we had a bad team. This was NC State in 1986-87. Duke was just starting to become the Duke that we know they are today. They were just starting to make that push. When I was a freshman at NC State, Tommy Amaker was the starting point guard at Duke. Danny Ferry, Quin Snyder were on that team. Muggsy Bogues was at Wake Forest. Horace Grant was at Clemson.

It wasn't an easy decision. Because they didn't necessarily want me to go. They tried to dissuade me otherwise. But I just kind of had it made up in my mind, for a number of reasons -- my immaturity, my inability to process at that age and impatient, as we all are. I certainly was at 18, and then the distance. I just made up my mind that that was what I was going to do.

Transferring was less common when you played. How did people around you view your decision?

It used to be that a transfer was kind of a scarlet letter. "Oh, something must be wrong with him." It was a bad word. Now, kids look at it like, if you're not transferring, you're not cool. It's completely changed.

I was fortunate to have a number of different opportunities in Round 2 of the recruiting process, and legendary coach Gene Bartow was the guy that really started UAB basketball off a lot of transfers.

People were questioning that. But my family was terrific. They certainly wanted me to be closer to home so they could be a little more involved.

Would you do it all over again if you had the choice?

I ended up being the second all-time leading scorer in UAB history and had a terrific run here, and now I'm back coaching at my alma mater, so it's worked out pretty well for me.

However, looking back at it, I'm not sure I would have made the decision to leave so prematurely. I would have probably given it more time, looking at it as a 54-year-old as opposed to the vision I had at 18.

As a head coach during an era with 1,700 transfers and counting, how has your decision to transfer affected your view of today's transfer climate?

We're in a different world. Back then, if you transferred, it was a negative connotation about you, the player. Something must be wrong. Now, that's not the case.

I ultimately understand this: As coaches, we're selfish. We want all the good players and we want to win all the games. That's all of us. But at the end of the day, I want kids that want to be here because of the demands of today's student-athlete as it relates to time, energy and the pressures based on the immediate feedback [they receive] through social media. I want guys who want to be here as much as I want them.

At the end of the year, we have discussions with our guys. How'd the year go? What's your plan moving forward? And we try to help them facilitate those, whether it be at our program or if they need to make a change.

If you could change the transfer rules right now, what would you do?

The only thing I think would make sense for everyone is that we need some guardrails in place as it relates to the timing of transferring. We have an early signing period, we have a late signing period -- and I know there are conversations moving this topic forward, about possibly having specific dates for when you can enter the portal, and when you can transfer. It can't be a year-round thing. I know if you don't transfer by May 1, you're not open to immediate eligibility, but I think there needs to be a timing mechanism so we're all operating with an understanding of how this work
05-27-2022 11:40 AM
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