No visit dates have been set yet for Cole Huff but Dayton Iowa creighton Vanderbilt Michigan are the schools he's most interested in— clint parks (@Brotherhood05) April 18, 2014
Granted, those may have only become options after Nevada initially barred Huff, a SoCal native, from playing at any major program on the West coast. Huff very well may end up nearer to home in Southern California now that Nevada has relaxed its restrictions.
"I met with Cole Huff today as part of the appeals process and it was a good dialogue. We've agreed upon a list of schools, including all non-Mountain West institutions in Southern California, to which Cole can explore a transfer. We wish him the best."
- Doug Knuth, Nevada athletics director.
Is it a conflict with another player or head coach David Carter? Malik Cooke's transfer from Nevada back in 2009 turned out to have more to do with a conflict with a teammate than it did a desire to go home to South Carolina. There are frequently team dynamics that the public at large is not privy to but thus far there are no indications that Huff has any major conflict with any of his teammates. Coach Carter, for all of his failings, many that even he would admit to, is by all accounts an affable coach with whom player's get along fine.
Is it a desire to play small forward? Huff has been forced to play out of position, at power forward, much of his career at Nevada due largely to the inability of coach Carter to either recruit or develop quality big men. Injuries, eligibility issues and recruiting misses have left Nevada without a big man who can compete in the MWC since Olek Czyz exhausted his eligibility and possibly as far back as Javale McGee's early departure for the NBA at the end of his sophomore year. It would be hard to believe that, faced with losing his lead returning scorer on a team that just lost an NBA bound scoring point guard, that Carter would deny Huff a chance to play small forward, if that's what it would take to keep him on Virginia Street.
Is it simply a desire to play on a winning team? Huff played high school ball for a very successful high school program, Campbell Hall, one that didn't lose a whole lot. Moving up to the collegiate ranks and coming to a team that perhaps isn't winning as much as a player was used to, can be a frustrating adjustment for some players. When Huff signed with Nevada back in 2012, Nevada was fresh off a 28-7 season, an NIT bid and still considered one of the top mid-major programs in the country. Given Nevada's recent struggles, the Wolf Pack haven't been to the NCAA tournament since 2009, it's likely Huff believes he is escaping a ship that is taking on water.
Is it a case of an under recruited player out of high school parlaying his success into a position at a bigger program that had previously over looked him? For my money, here lies the answer. Huff originally gave a verbal commitment to San Diego State in 2010 but the Aztecs backed off of Huff after he injured his knee his junior year. It took him a good two years to come back from that injury and by then, much of the interest from major programs had dried up. It could be said that Huff "fell" to Nevada following his injury and that Nevada took a chance on a player who's recovery from injury was far from certain.
After two seasons, Huff has developed into a solid division 1 contributor. He can score in a variety of ways, displayed a smooth stroke from beyond the arc and was the kind of player who did a little bit of everything well. In short, a player who had certainly caught the eye of any big 5 program looking to fill a hole in their roster.
There is a great deal of discussion in the media right now on the relationship between student athletes and NCAA member institutions. From unionization, to full cost of attendance, to meals, to licensing, to transfer rules, to renewable scholarships, clearly it's a relationship that heavily favors the institution over the student athlete right now and that does indeed need to move towards more balance. Examining that situation in depth is a subject for an entirely separate article.
Players should be free to go wherever they wish, within reason. Given Nevada's initial, and much criticized hardline stance, barring Huff from transfer to 45 institutions, there's clearly an undercurrent here that makes this transfer story a little more complicated than the average player departure. Programs in the MWC and outside the "Big 5" are already facing an enormous disadvantage in revenue given the titanic shifts of realignment. If wealthier programs, desperate to succeed, start plucking the best players from the ranks of the so called "mid-majors", looking to replenish rosters thinned out by one-and-done NBA bound players, programs at Nevada's level risk becoming virtual farm teams for the bigger conference programs. The involvement of AAU coaches as defacto agents for players under scholarship at NCAA institutions looking to "upgrade" casts a light on the seedy underbelly of big time college athletics that Doug Knuth alluded to when Huff's request first came to light. It's another in a long line of depressing developments for fans of college athletics.
Ultimately, whatever the reasons, does it really matter? Cole Huff no longer desires to be a student athlete at the University of Nevada. Wish him well and move on.
Neil Henderson can be reached via Twitter. Follow @NeilSBS