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Purple exodus: Niagara’s transfer doldrums continue

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Well, at least new Niagara men’s basketball head coach Chris Casey will be able to start from scratch.

According to a variety of sources, Tahjere McCall, Malcolm Lemmons and T.J. Cline are all expected to transfer out of Lewiston, following in the footsteps of Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley, who decided to leave April 29. (Update, 5/13: According to TBN’s Bob DiCesare, sources have backtracked on McCall’s departure and now he’s expected to remain with the program.)

The mass exodus stems from Niagara head coach Joe Mihalich’s decision to bolt for the Hofstra University coaching job, and message board rumors are circulating that no restrictions have been placed upon the transfer of the initial duo, meaning they could very well follow Mihalich to Hofstra.

The Buffalo News’ Bob DiCesare cited sources close to Niagara that claimed soon-to-be sophomore point guard Tahjere McCall and senior guard Malcolm Lemmons had chosen to pursue other schools, while CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman added soon-to-be sophomore T.J. Cline to his transfer list.

While McCall and Lemmons were rumored to be on the outs for a few weeks, the alleged transfer of Cline—son of Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Nancy Lieberman—comes entirely out of the blue.

It’s telling to look back at Amy Moritz’s profile of Lieberman and Cline, especially Cline’s quote about the tight-knit Purps.

“I think our team chemistry is really good,” Cline said. “I think we have a really good team that no one really knows about. We have a chance to do really big things this year. I really enjoy playing with the guys. Everyone’s on the same page as far as what cuts to make, what plays we’re running, how we’re going to execute it.”

Considering how tight Cline and McCall were—the two freshmen who saw regular minutes in Mihalich’s rotation for the MAAC regular season champions—it wouldn’t be shocking if one’s decision influenced the other.

If all this transfer news is accurate, then Niagara returns only 32.7 points per game of the 2012-13 team’s average of 73.8.

At least Casey’s staff secured the services of Philadelphia phenom guard Karonn Davis, who—given today’s news—will more than likely be forced into an immediate role as the team’s starting point guard, allowing Antoine Mason and Marvin Jordan to work off-the-ball.

Here’s an excellent profile of Davis courtesy of CityofBasketballLove.com, which mentions that Nevada came close to offering the combo guard back in April.

It will be very difficult for the five transferring Purple Eagles to land in the same location—there simply aren’t many schools with five scholarships available. If I had to speculate, both Green and Tanksley would be a package deal, and so would Cline and McCall to a different destination.

All the transfers are at the mercy of the market, however, and we’ll do our best to keep track of where they all wind up.

TAGGED: chris casey, joe mihalich, juan'ya green, maac basketball, malcolm lemmons, niagara purple eagles, niagara transfers, niagara university, t.j. cline, tahjere mccall

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