The transfer portal will not plop David DeJulius down in Columbia.
The former Michigan point guard committed to Cincinnati on Thursday, becoming the third player in the span of four days to rebuff the Tigers’ overtures. And so coach Cuonzo Martin’s search to fill a pair of vacant scholarships continues in earnest, a hunt unfolding as the supply of high-impact transfer dwindles.
In DeJulius’ case, the Detroit native, who would have sat out this season, was looking for a landing spot that might offer a clear opportunity to run a team.
While in Ann Arbor, DeJulius, who averaged 7.0 points and 2.4 rebounds last season, could never quite crack the starting rotation. Under John Beilein, he saw scant minutes backing up Zavier Simpson. The arrival of Juwan Howard, who wanted to play at a perkier tempo and use a ball-screen heavy system, offered the possibility of an expanded role as a sophomore. Instead, Eli Brooks, who was a more reliable defender, laid claim to it.
Had DeJulius opted for Mizzou, he would have offered the Tigers a natural replacement for Dru Smith. And if the NCAA granted immediate eligibility to first-time transfers, the 6-footer, who was a prolific scorer at East English High School, could have provided additional pop for an inconsistent offense. By Wednesday afternoon, though, he had settled on the Bearcats, a source told Rock M Nation.
So, where do Martin and his staff turn next?
Finding an addition on par with wing Justin Turner, a two-time All-MAC selection who is staying put at Bowling Green, seems remote. And DeJulius was one of the few options with a track-record as a rotational piece for a successful power conference program.
As of Thursday morning, the best options for immediate help appeared to be Rice wing Josh Parrish or George Mason’s Justin Kier, but there’s been no indication the Tigers are involved with either. Late Wednesday evening, Wake Forest’s Chaundee Brown announced he would transfer if he pulls his name out of the NBA draft, but he’ll command plenty of attention and pursuing him means waiting as the portal continues emptying out.
Earlier this week, we may have picked up a hint about other targets. Reports indicated the program has touched base with Hawaii point guard Drew Buggs and Fresno State combo guard Jarred Hyder, a pair of prospects who are stylistic contrasts.
In the case of Buggs, who is 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, it’s as a pass-first maestro. The junior averaged 5.4 assists last season and excelled hitting rollers out of high ball screens. Yet he only shot 36.2 percent from the floor, including a chilly 26.2 percent from long range. While the sample size is small, his distribution skills held up against KenPom top-100 opponents.
Drew Buggs | Production vs. KenPom Top-100
Meanwhile, Hyder showed promise as a three-level scorer during his freshman season for the Bulldogs. In high pick-and-rolls, he averaged 1.03 points per possession, according to Synergy data. No doubt, his jumper could improve, but exploiting closeouts (1.04 PPP) was also a strength. Hyder, who is 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, doesn’t have the track record of Turner, but he could mesh with the direction Martin steered the offense over the back half of last season.
Jarred Hyder | Production vs. KenPom Top-100
However, neither Buggs nor Hyder have released their respective finalists, and Buggs might inclined to stay on the West Coast.
Increasingly, Mizzou’s progress appears to hinge on a trio of existing pieces — Jeremiah Tilmon, Torrence Watson and Xavier Pinson — each finding their own measure of consistency. For now, the Tigers sole signee remains post Jordan Wilmore, who committed to the Tigers’ last fall.