The Reasons for the Transfer

WORCESTER, MASS. -- As Neil Fingleton concluded his semester and short-lived career in Chapel Hill today, one of those closest to him reflected on the situation.

"Neil feels he can still reach the same goal (of professional basketball) in a more comfortable environment," said Phil Giarusso, who served as Fingleton's guardian and host family during Neil's three years attending high school at Worcester (Mass.) Holy Name.

Giarusso explained that this lack of comfort was not the fault of anyone or anything at Carolina. Rather it was what Chapel Hill wasn't -- a small city in New England with an intimate community that the 7-5 Fingleton had grown accustomed to.

"It wasn't what anybody did or didn't do (in Chapel Hill)," Giarusso said. "Neil was twice removed from home."

Fingleton moved from Durham, England to Worcester, Mass. prior to his sophomore year in high school. He spent three seasons learning the game with head coach J.P. Ricciardi's Holy Name squad.

Contrary to popular opinion, Giarusso said that Fingleton's decision was about returning to this environment in Massachusetts -- and not about a lack of early playing time.

"Neil's just a freshman," he said, "and a lot of freshmen around the country sit. He was going to have his opportunity. He had the opportunity as a sophomore to possibly start or at least see significant minutes.

"I would imagine that by his junior or senior year he would have been a solid ACC player."

Giarusso emphasized that the departure from Carolina was also in no way indicative of Fingleton's feelings for the Carolina program.

"It's not a reflection on Matt (Doherty), the players or the administration," he said. "Matt is a class guy. It had nothing to do with Matt. I think Neil would have left even if Guthridge was still there."

Giarusso furthered his glowing praise of Doherty and his staff's efforts to assist Fingleton.

"Matt communicated with Neil more than any other player," he said. "He was a mentor and went way beyond the coach-player relationship -- he went out of his way for the kid. They could have cut him loose, but they didn't."

So what does the future hold for Neil Fingleton?

According to Giarusso, the transfer process involves first getting his release letter from UNC and then telling the athletic department to which schools he wants it sent. Only then are those prospective colleges allowed to talk to him.

Fingleton plans on attending a local school, and not any of the out-of-state options mentioned in published reports, Giarusso said. And while Giarusso wouldn't confirm or deny it, all indications are that Fingleton will enroll at nearby Holy Cross.

"He planted some roots here," Giarusso said. "Holy Cross is a small school and he's been up there a million times over the years."


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