Late on Thursday afternoon, an email showed up in my inbox from North Dakota State Sports Information Director, Wes Offerman, that stated Guard, Khy Kabellis, was transferring. I was stunned to hear this news as Khy played 38 minutes a game last season (including all 50 in a double overtimewin versus Western Illinois) and averaged 11 points and three assists per game. Dave Richman was also surprised when Kabellis told him of his decision and was disappointed, understandably.
I swapped a couple messages with Khy, wished him well and asked what went into his decision. He said, “This was one of the hardest decisions of my life and I feel like it's best for me and my family. I'm looking for a better fit and higher level.”
I do wish Khy well. I enjoyed getting to know him and his family the last year, but this move is just the latest bombshell in an off-season full of unforeseen decisions that have completely changed the landscape in the Summit League next year.
It all started in early March when Oral Roberts Guard, Kris Martin, said he was tranferring. Martin started 23 games and was the second leading scorer for Golden Eagles, shooting nearly 41% from three-point range. This was not a huge shock perhaps, as ORU was coming off an 8-22 season. He has since landed at Colorado State. A month later, veteran Coach Scott Sutton was let go after 18 years on the bench. This was surprising to me considering Sutton had won over 300 games and took ORU to three NCAA Tournaments, two NIT’s and CIT during his time in Tulsa. Plus the timing was bizarre. Why wait 40 days after the season to fire a coach? Scott and his brother, Sean, have certainly shown in the past they know how to build programs and win games. Very Weird.
Than in late March, Omaha Forward, TreShawn Thurman, announced he was transferring to play his senior year somewhere else. Thurman, an Omaha native, certainly would have been in consideration as a pre-season first-team selection in the Summit League next year. He started every game for the Mavericks last season and averaged nearly 14 points and eight rebounds a game. He told the Omaha World-Herald he made decision because “I’m just trying to go somewhere that fits my playing style well and can help me improve my game.”
Next was South Dakota Guard, Trey Dickerson, who announced his intentions to transfer after graduation and play elsewhere in his final season of eligibility. Dickerson was one of four players on the roster to start all 34 games last season, although Freshman Tristan Simpson was starting to emerge in the backcourt. This will also be Dickerson’s fourth time transferring (Murray State to Williston State to Iowa to USD to wherever he lands next).
All of these players leaving their respective programs were on the floor a lot, playing heavy minutes. Each were key pieces to their team’s plans moving forward. An article recently published by Pete Thamel from Sports Illustrated details how this is a trend everywhere in college basketball.
In the article, it states “A Sports Illustrated study of transfer data reveals that since 2012, the amount of players who’ve transferred up to higher-rated leagues from the low-and mid-levels of college basketball has more than tripled.”
Can you imagine if Ben Woodside decided to leave NDSU or Nate Wolters chose to transfer from SDSU for their Junior or Senior seasons? We would have missed watching two incredible talents and all the magic they created in Fargo and Brookings.
This ‘trend’ has to be a concern for the Summit League and its coaches moving forward, although their attention has to be focused on the players they do have in the program. However, four different teams have been significantly affected by impact players moving on for what they perceive as ‘greener pastures’. Let’s hope it doesn’t continue.