Miller: Roster turnover in college hoops 'incredible'
Miller seeing 'incredible' roster turnover at UA, across college hoops, sees need for 'delicate balance.'
By TYLER LOCKMAN FS Arizona
PHOENIX -- On the heels of news that sophomore forward Angelo Chol will transfer from Arizona, coach Sean Miller said Thursday that college basketball is in uncharted territory when it comes to roster turnover.
"The change is incredible, it really is, from one year to the next," Miller said during a stop on Arizona's "Road Tour" at Chase Field. "I don't believe it's (just) in the Pac-12, I don't think it's in the state of Arizona. I think it's really across the nation, where never have we ever seen this type of change before."
Chol was UA's second loss in as many weeks after freshman Grant Jerrett unexpectedly declared for the NBA Draft. Chol decided to leave in pursuit of more minutes or a starting role somewhere else after averaging 8.5 minutes per game in 28 games for the Wildcats last season. Jerrett could have transferred but decided to go pro instead of sitting out a season.
With Arizona's rise since Miller's arrival four years ago, more top talent has been attracted to Tucson. But with so much talent in place, Miller is faced with the challenge of keeping everyone happy with only so many minutes to go around.
"It's hard, it's a delicate balance," Miller said. "You do the very best you can, and you try to communicate early. You hope that expectations and reality are somewhere near each other, but the way our world communicates, there are so many people pulling on college athletes today to move them in different directions."
Between transfers and early exits for the NBA or other professional options, Miller has seen eight of the 15 freshmen he has recruited to UA so far leave the school before their eligibility was up. Four of those, including Chol, were transfers. It seems that the more top-tier players Miller lands, the harder it becomes to keep the ones recruited before them.
Miller said he understands the reason players leave and typically does not hold it against them, but the constant roster churn forces him to build a new team each season rather than keeping a core together for three or four years -- the way a team like national champion Louisville did.
"It's understandable, but what it forces you to do as a coach is you’re constantly recruiting," Miller said. "You're building teams for one year. They can have a lot more change than maybe they once did. I don't believe that's just in our program; I believe that's pretty comprehensive across the country."
Miller is right. Early exits and transfers are not just Arizona problems. CBSSports.com keeps a running list of players transferring from Division I schools, and less than a month after the end of the NCAA tournament, that list has grown to more than 360 players. Last season, it eclipsed 450.
With high-profile recruits such as power forward
Aaron Gordon, small forward Rondae Jefferson and guard Elliot Pitts incoming next season, UA will again have an abundance of talent. Miller said the natural next step for his program is reaching a Final Four and a national championship game, a challenge that will be increasingly difficult with the trend of roster turnover showing no signs of slowing.
"We just have to do the best we can," Miller said. "Obviously, you have to continue to recruit. I don't think you can ever have enough, because next year there are no certainties.
"You have to adapt to it, and that's what we're trying to do right now."