It’s not uncommon to hear of players transferring at season’s end. A plethora of players made that decision for their careers following the 2015-16 season, with the list pushing 700 names.
However, it’s rare to hear of players who decide to transfer in July, over three months after the previous season came to a close. A decision that late puts both team and player in a tough spot moving forwards.
The latter is the situation the Buffalo Bulls and Lamonte Bearden found themselves in, as the sophomore point guard announced his intentions to transfer from the program.
After his decision to transfer, several schools reached out and tried to recruit Bearden, who will sit out the 2016-17 season due to transfer regulations.
On Tuesday, it was first reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports that Bearden has found his new team for the remainder of his collegiate career.
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
Last season with the Bulls, Bearden led the team in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per game to go along with 4.2 assists per contest. He was one of four Bulls to average double-figures per game over the course of the year.
In the NCAA Tournament, Bearden recorded 19 points in the Bulls’ 79-72 loss to the Miami (FL) Hurricanes in the Round of 64.
Bearden doesn’t come without his share of off-court concerns. Last year, he was suspended for three games due to ‘conduct detrimental to the team’. If he can put that in the past and build from it, he will be a big addition to the Hilltoppers in 2017-18.
The addition of Bearden to the Hilltoppers’ program is the latest big pickup for new Head Coach Rick Stansbury. Stansbury and his coaching staff have had a huge impact on players before they’ve played a game in a Western Kentucky uniform.
Graduate transfers Que Johnson and Junior Lomomba cited Stansbury and his staff as a big reason why they chose to finish their collegiate careers with the Hilltoppers. Both were highly-coveted players on the transfer market following the 2015-16 season, but chose Western Kentucky.
With both graduating after the 2016-17 year, Bearden will have the opportunity to step in and assume the role of starting point guard right away. He will be joined by five-star freshman Mitchell Robinson, who chose Western Kentucky after de-committing from the Texas A&M Aggies.
Bearden and Robinson will form a formidable inside-out duo that should push the Hilltoppers into contention once again in the Conference USA.
– T. Bennett