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Year after year many college athletes transfer from one school to another. Football and both men’s and women’s basketball see more transfers than others, but recently the number of transfers in men’s hoops specifically has sky-rocketed.

Going into the 2013-14 academic year, nearly 450 male athletes switched schools to play basketball. Most athletic transfers must sit out their first season at their new school under NCAA guidelines. Some, however, will play right away, as they have been granted immediate eligibility. Still others have taken advantage of a new NCAA rule allowing players that have graduated to seek a master’s degree not offered at their present institution.

The glut of transfers is no longer dominated by athletes simply searching for more playing time.

Successful players such as Antonio Barton (Memphis to Tennessee), Tarik Black (Memphis to Kansas), Eli Carter (Rutgers to Florida), Jordan Dickerson (SMU to Penn State), Micah Mason (Drake to Duquesne), J.J. Moore (Pitt to Rutgers) and Rodney Purvis (North Carolina State to Connecticut) are just a sampling of big names to transfer this past off-season.

Some are willing to take a year off, while others are taking advantage of the new graduation/transfer rule.

“It’s just a fact of life,” said Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon, who had four players transfer out of his program since the start of last season. “I don’t know if it’s a problem. It just is what it is. It’s a part of college. That’s what kids do. Your athletes aren’t any different than your non-athletes. People change jobs, people go to different schools.”

Dixon is certainly accurate about the commonality of transfers.

Both J.J. Moore and Trey Zeigler entered last season with expectations of making major impacts for Pitt. Things didn’t work out the way wither player planned, however, and now both have moved on. Zeigler, who transferred to Texas Christian, is now with his third program in as many years. He transferred to Pitt after two seasons at Central Michigan.

Ryan Harrow has also transferred twice – first from NC State to Kentucky, then from UK to Georgia State. He was granted immediate eligibility at Georgia State after he sought a NCAA waiver for family reasons.

Micah Mason, a western PA native, transferred from Drake in Iowa simply to be closer to home at Duquesne.

Coaches say that gaining or losing a player to a transfer has its pros and cons.

“It is a challenge,” Pitt assistant coach Barry Rohrssen said. “Hopefully, you’ll be getting someone that will be more productive with change. You never exactly know why a kid makes his original choice in the first place, whether it was family, friends. Maybe you go there and it isn’t exactly what you thought.

“In some respects, a transfer is both a blessing and a curse,” Rohrssen explained. “Sometimes kids can use something different. Other times, just like we learn in life, it’s better to just stick things out and work harder where you’re at than to just move on.”

Rohrssen added that transfers can be “like used cars. One of them could have 100,000 miles left on him, or he could be a lemon. You just never know.”

The graduation rule has made it easier for student-athletes to transfer because they don’t have to sit out a season. Transfer numbers are still high, however, whether players must sit out or not.

"I can only speculate like most people do, but kids just aren't willing to wait,” West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said. “I think that's the biggest thing... It just doesn't appear that today's kids are as willing to wait.

“When you've got 400 kids transferring in a year? OK, that's a lot now,” Huggins added. “It didn't used to be that way."

With the potential to land older players with college experience through transfers, some coaches are concerned recruiting at the high school level will be impacted.

"I think most of that's a fallacy, recruiting kids from the time they're 16 or 17,” Huggins said.  “I think we go out and watch them in AAU and obviously you try to watch them when they're younger but we don't have a whole hell of a lot of personal contact with them. So you probably don't get to know them as well as you used to get to know them because you're not allowed to have the personal contact that we once were.”

With college basketball’s best players often entering the NBA after just one year, and more players transferring every year, the game has changed dramatically over the past decade.

While the best programs used to develop players through solid recruiting and a deep bench, the days of players earning playing time by paying their dues seem to be almost over.

Don’t be surprised to see more and more programs, and more and more coaches, turning to a transfer or two—or three, or four—to not only fill holes but also to play key roles in determining the success of their teams.

That seems to be the norm in college basketball today.

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