IOWA CITY — Iowa coaches and players said Tuesday the recent era of player transfers seems to have run its course.
“I can’t imagine with this group, but I can understand why you asked me because we’ve gone through two years now where we’ve had (transfers) at the end,” Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter said. “I do think it’s not completely unique.”
Nine scholarship players in Lickliter’s tenure have left for various reasons. Some were unhappy, others wanted more playing time and some to live closer with family.
Last year sent a shock wave through Iowa basketball when four players transferred at the end of the season. Every one of those players started at least five games. The key losses were sophomore guards Jake Kelly — the team’s leading scorer — and Jeff Peterson, who started the first 25 games at point guard. Juniors Jermain Davis (11-game starter) and David Palmer (five) left to play at Division II schools.
Junior center Jarryd Cole said unlike last year, he hasn’t heard of any players planning to leave.
“Until I hear something from the guys who are here, then I’m not going to believe them,” he said. “There were some people talking (last year) that they weren’t happy, things like that. That’s not going around right now. It’s really hard to tell what’s going to go on, what’s going to happen, but time will tell.”
Iowa sophomore guard Anthony Tucker started the first 11 games this year before he was arrested for public intoxication. After serving an athletics department suspension lasting five weeks, Tucker was allowed to practice and travel with the team. Lickliter declined to play him, and Tucker asked for — and was granted — his scholarship release two weeks ago.
Rumors have swirled on Internet message boards that another wave of player transfers is on the horizon. Both sophomore forward Aaron Fuller and freshman point guard Cully Payne joined Cole in shooting down those rumors.
Payne said he often hears transfer whispers throughout Iowa City.
“Last year I guess toward the end they were OK and then all those guys left and it was just kind of like restart, which wasn’t fair for coach,” Payne said. “So I think we’re all staying, I haven’t heard anyone say they’re leaving. Everyone says they’re leaving here and there but from what I hear in the locker room, everyone’s staying and we’re happy and we’re keep going with this.
“People always come up to you, ‘Are you’re transferring,’ and stuff like that. We laugh at them. We’re like brothers in there. We’re not going anywhere.”
Fuller, who hails from Mesa, Ariz., said he’s happy at Iowa and the program is headed in the right direction.
“My guys are here,” he said. “I feel really close with my teammates. I feel like we have come together this year and bonded. I feel like even though it hasn’t been going our way this year, that we’re really going to push through eventually.
“The season could be going better but for the most part I’m happy, I love my teammates, and I just want to keep moving forward.”