It is far too early to evaluate DU’s new men’s basketball 2021-2022 recruits, especially with so little time to replace the exodus of players from last season’s 2-19 roster. Assistant head coach Brandon Dunston and assistant Jeff Zewe are in charge of recruiting to Head Coach Jeff Wulbrun’s vision. Wulbrun told the University of Denver Magazine, “Recruiting to a prestigious academic institution allows you to recruit high-character and high-integrity kids—kids who chase excellence not just in basketball, but chase excellence in the classroom; kids who not only want to be good players, but good students,”
The cupboard was bare when Wulbrun and his staff arrived on campus. So how are DU’s former players performing in new locales and are they better off at their new schools?
Jase Townsend transferred to a DU peer school, the University of San Diego (5-2). However, at USD, Townsend’s scoring has dropped from 19.2 points per game to 11.7. on nearly the same minutes played (32.6 vs. 29.7). San Diego blends a solid academic experience and meets Townsend’s stated desire to play for a winning program. Townsend, USD’s leading scorer in early non-conference play, broke his hand and is out 4-6 weeks for the Toreros.
Sam Hines, Jr. and Robert Jones transferred to South Florida and Iowa State, respectively, and are playing bit roles with their new teams. Sam Hines played 29.2 minutes per game at DU but dropped to 17.3 minutes this season, scoring 3.4 points vs. the 10.7 ppg. he scored at DU last year. Big man Robert Jones’ playing time has dropped in half at ISU and he is scoring just 2.8 points as opposed to his 9.1 last year in Crimson & Gold.
Kobey Lam and Joseph Lanzi both transferred to Charleston (NCAA D-II). The free-wheeling Lam is scoring only 3.4 points per game, well under his 8.3 ppg last season, when he shot a tepid 35.1% from the field. Former Pioneers guard Joseph Lanzi is scoring 2.6 points per game in limited action for the Golden Eagles as his playing time has dropped as well. The same goes for Roscoe Eastmond at Southeastern Louisiana and Eric Moenkhaus at University of Indianapolis (D-II) with both players showing on their team’s rosters, yet no stat sheet results.
Earlier transfers have fared no better. Denver fans loved the early potential of the big man (literally and figuratively) David Nzekwesi who has continued his struggles at Weber State (Big Sky) scoring a dismal 2.7 points per game this season in his second year on the roster. Jake Krafka took a step down to D2 St. Edwards and is playing 26 minutes per game and scoring 10.4 points. Last season, Elvin Rodriquez’s stock plunged lower as he played for the NAIA Science and Arts of Oklahoma and scored 16.2 points per game. Rodriguez borrowed a Hail Mary from the NFL in an attempt to enter the NBA draft and is not listed on any basketball rosters this season.
— Elvin rodriguez (@erod11075) April 7, 2021
When looking at recent DU transferring players, in nearly every case, their landing spots neither elevated their playing status nor improved their academic experience. Clearly, DU has not often recruited and/or developed legitimate D1 players, even for play in a mid-tier conference like the Summit League. These errors in recruiting have proved to be a disservice for both the student-athletes and the University of Denver. Wulbrun’s approach to recruiting may be more effective in securing student-athletes who want to remain and contribute both on and off-court at the University of Denver. Time will tell.
Denver (3-7) hopes to snap their 40-game road losing streak tonight at New Mexico at 7:00 pm MT.
Photo of former Denver guard Jase Townsend courtesy of USD Athletics