Graduate transfer, center Valentine Izundu reportedly visiting Fresno State

Six players have pledged to the 'Dogs for the 2016 recruiting class, but graduate transfer Valentine Izundu is reportedly visiting Fresno State as a potential landing spot.

The Fresno State Bulldogs already have six commitments for its 2016 basketball recruiting class and at least five of them have announced as players who signed letters of intent to accept scholarship offers - Somehow, it looks like there is room for one more.

Multiple reports came out Tuesday that former Washington State center Valentine Izundu, a 6-foot-10 and 235-pound graduate transfer, plans to visit Fresno State.

Izundu was recruited to and played two seasons at Houston University after graduating from Lamar Consolidated High School in Rosenberg, Texas. He was a two-star recruit and reportedly had interest from Arkansas, Baylor and Missouri.

As a freshman, Izundu appeared in 20 games with season-highs of nine points, four rebounds and four blocks. As a sophomore, he logged only 25 minutes and then transferred to Washington State. At WSU, Izundu became a role player, averaging 3.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 14.9 minutes per game. He has one year of eligibility immediately available as a graduate transfer.

There has been some controversy in Izundu’s graduate transfer process, however - accounted by the The San Diego Union-Tribune. San Diego State, along with Fresno State and UNLV, are his three potential landing spots, but a possible move to SDSU was originally blocked by Washington State and now rescinded. The conflict reportedly arose after Izundo attended a San Diego State NIT game while on a spring break vacation. He will now visit SDSU, followed by visits to Fresno State and UNLV according to reports.

Fresno State’s roster is loaded from top to bottom in 2016-17, but the one possible complaint could be made about the center position. It was announced last month that the team’s starting center for the first half of last season, Torren Jones, has been dismissed from the team. Though it was no surprise, only one of the six additions in this year’s recruiting class so far addresses the lost size in 6-foot-11 Brazilian Lazaro Rojas, but he projects more as a stretch-forward than a center.

The Bulldogs are expected to return centers Karachi Edo and Terrell Carter for the 2016-17 season, but at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds and 6-foot-10 and 285 pounds respectively, neither are typical sizes for centers in today’s game.

Izundu’s visit to Fresno State also suggests that a scholarship must be open for him. With five signees, the Bulldogs would appear to be at their limit meaning one player, if not more, that was expected to return will be headed elsewhere.

Losing multiple players unexpectedly would not be unusual for the Bulldogs, nor most colleges in the current state of NCAA Division-I basketball. Four scholarship players left the program in the 2014-15 season for reasons other than eligibility. That number was two in 2013-14, four in 2012-13 and two in 2011-12 during the Rodney Terry era at Fresno State. The transfer rate by an incoming freshman by the end of their sophomore season is 40 percent across the nation.

Most of those 12 players that left before their eligibility ended had limited roles on the team while a few were dismissed for team violations. All of the scholarship players expected to return for 2016-17 were either a part of the rotation last year or redshirted with future expectations in the program.

Incoming players for next season include five-star point guard William McDowell-White, and his brother Darryl McDowell-White, junior college guard Jacob Holland, 6-foot-11 Brazilian forward Lazaro Rojas, three-star guard Johnny McWilliams Jr. and three-star forward Bryson Williams from Roosevelt High School in Fresno.

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