I've got to admit I was surprised by T.J. McConnell's decision to transfer from Duquesne when I heard it driving in to work yesterday. Not only that, but a few others are leaving as well. The Dukes' program has made some strides under Ron Everhart and then to have this happen?
I felt bad for Duquesne since I think the city benefits by having more than one good program, but then I got to thinking about how McConnell might look in a Pitt uniform. That apparently won't happen, but maybe not for the reasons you think.
With the Chris Jones pickup a few weeks ago, Pitt is at their limit for players for next season. But as we've seen, a player 'moving on' definitely has happened under Dixon's watch.
McConnell, according to his father, is moving on because he wants to play at a higher level. Playing at Pitt and in the Big East/ACC certainly fits that criteria. But here's the thing - suiting up against the Dukes on an annual basis doesn't really appeal to the guard:
"We just decided that those are two schools we would not pursue, just because of local rivalries," Tim McConnell said. "We don't think it would be a good idea to leave, and come back and play Duquesne on a yearly basis. We will look into some schools, but we will not look into Pitt or Robert Morris."
Pitt obviously has a point guard in Woodall next season, but playing both at the same time in various points in a game could have been an option. Because Woodall's around, McConnell might not have been the perfect fit, but I would have loved to see what he could do at Pitt.
So where could he end up? Who knows. Adam, Our assistant editor over at SB Nation Pittsburgh says Penn State could be a great fit and I'm inclined to agree with his reasoning. But getting back to McConnell's desire to leave ...
I've got no issue with him wanting to play against better competition, but here's the thing.Playing in the A-10 isn't exactly like many mid-major conferences. The Dukes play against Xavier and Temple, both pretty good programs. Saint Louis and UMASS also had good seasons this year and St. Bonaventure, Dayton, and La Salle all won 20 games as as well. Duquesne also took on Pitt and Arizona in the non-conference as well as George Mason and major conference team Penn State.
And here's the thing, McConnell's a very good player, but he's not been dominating the Dukes' foes. This year he averaged just over 11 points, four rebounds, and five assists a game. Good numbers, but they don't exactly scream that McConnell isn't getting any competition. The fact that two others are leaving the program as well really make me wonder if there's more to this story about the school, Everhart, or something else.
Either way, hope to see it end well for McConnell - I think he's a heck of a player.