Spencer Eliason could have played another year with the Bison basketball team and maybe if he were averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds he would do that. But he’s averaging 4.3 points and 3.4 rebounds despite starting 22 of 26 games. He isn’t a focal part of the offense and perhaps he was hoping for more progress at this stage of his college career. Or, maybe he would bolt for the pursuit of medical school either way. We sometimes forget the old NCAA slogan: “There are over 400,000 student-athletes, and most of us will go pro in something other than sports.”
His departure leaves NDSU with another scholarship for next year. NDSU traditionally hasn’t taken many transfer players, but head coach Dave Richman said he would be open to it if “they were the right ones.” He said the emphasis is players from a six-state area in the Upper Midwest who fit “a profile and a demographic that has been successful.”
“Obviously there are no absolutes until you get a young man here and his family here,” Richman said. “But I’d be crazy not to reflect back on some rosters that had success and look at the makeup of those rosters.”
The Bison need a quick fix or two next season and I think it’s time to look at the makeup of the University of South Dakota roster. I’m not saying the Bison have or should bring in a bunch of players, but one or two could go a long way. USD’s Nick Fuller, a graduate transfer from Nebraska, made a difference last week against NDSU. Matt Mooney, a transfer from Air Force, is one of the best players in the Summit League. Guard Carlton Hurst from Colorado State started the first 18 games before breaking his hand.
The Coyotes are 22-6.
The last time NDSU had Division I transfers on the roster was 2011-12 with Drew Lundberg (Northern Iowa) and Dylan Hale (Texas State). They didn’t work out so great. But the times are changing in the NCAA. It’s been a nice culture thing for NDSU to win all these Division I years with high school kids, however, it appears a one-time exemption that will allow more (but not everybody) Division I players to transfer to another Division I school without having to sit out is apparently on its way through the NCAA legislative circles. The Bison shouldn’t be shy into tapping into that.
They need to find that Andre Smith, the former Bison center who started at St. Bonaventure, transferred to North Dakota State College of Science before manning the middle in Fargo. NDSU needs to find a man in the middle, the guy who will knock you down first and ask questions later. A guy who has no problem getting the key rebound late in the game. A guy who can post up and either score or draw a foul with under a minute to play.
I don’t know how it’s done, how you advertise that, but NDSU should put the feeler out there. Yes, it’s more risky bringing in transfers because we all know kids transfer for a reason, usually because they’re not good enough or there are some off-the-court issues. Minutes, however, are a valuable commodity. Sometimes, you have to take a risk.