Seton Hall back-up point guard Jordan Walker will leave the program after just one rocky season.
Walker (1.8 ppg, .9 apg) is the third reserve guard to dip into the transfer market in the past two weeks and the eighth Pirate to leave the program by non-graduation over the last two seasons if you include Phil Flory, who isn’t 100-percent out the door yet.
Here’s the full list:
Rashed Anthony — graduate transfer to Saint Louis
Jevon Thomas — discipline/academics, transferred to Texas-Permian Basin
Veer Singh — stopped playing basketball
Myles Carter — kicked off team for academics, transferred to Seattle
Dalton Soffer — transferred to Cal-State San Marcos
Depending on who you talk to, Walker leaving is addition by subtraction as his immaturity was largely a distraction, although it was mostly conveyed as relentless energy to the average viewer during games.
Between his early season hand injury — which contained its fair share of behind the scenes controversy — and the near mid-season transfer on Walker’s behalf after he rode the bench following the injury, his departure from the team is even less surprising than Eron Gordon’s, although I didn’t expect both to leave.
In retrospect, it seems even less odd now that Walker was left behind for the NCAA tournament trip to Kansas to have surgery on his hand. I always thought getting post-season experience under you (even if its just traveling) outweighs a slight delay in surgery — but it doesn’t matter now.
More worrying than the volume of departing players — it can be argued that the bulk of the above list of ex-Pirates were rotational pieces at best — is Walker’s status as a point guard and a top-150 rated recruit at that.
Let this sink in: The last natural point guard to play at Seton Hall for four years is still Jordan Theodore (2008-12).
Here’s a year-by-year look at who has played the point for Kevin Willard. I’ve marked the natural floor generals with asterisks.
2010-11: Jordan Theodore*/Keon Lawrence/Eniel Polynice
2011-12: Theodore*/Freddie Wilson*
2012-13: Tom Maayan*/Aaron Cosby
2013-14: Sterling Gibbs/Jaren Sina/Maayan*
2014-15: Gibbs/Isaiah Whitehead
2016-17: Madison Jones*/Khadeen Carrington
2017-18: Carrington/Eron Gordon
It seems baffling to some that there has been such a revolving door at a key position with a head coach and an associate head coach — until recently — that were both point guards in their playing days; new assistant Tony Skinn played point at George Mason during their Cinderella run.
Willard and Shaheen Holloway were almost perpetually trying to squeeze two-guards like Gibbs, Whitehead, Carrington and Aaron Cosby into a position not natural to them.
Most of the blame should be heaped on recruiting failures.
Using Jordan Walker as an example, he was a late recruiting addition in the wake of Trevon Duval deciding to go to Duke — Seton Hall didn’t have many options beyond Walker and also missed on other targets not named Duval.
But the staff is of course responsible for the situation they were put in of taking Walker aboard despite some coaches having to be convinced — it was not a universal decision.
Looking back at it, the match between Walker and Seton Hall seemed set up to fail.
A similar cycle of missing on targets and settling for an unranked recruit like Tom Maayan or a talented player that will have to learn new skills can be applied to much of the time since Jordan Theodore left.
It invokes the agonizing hypothetical of how much better some of Willard’s teams could have been if they had benefited from sophomore and junior natural point guards emerging from the bench to be handed the reins.
Looking ahead, incoming 6-foot-4 southpaw point guard Anthony Nelson must be licking his chops at the opportunity.
Instead of Gordon and Walker standing in his way of minutes, Nelson currently has little competition outside of Sacred Heart transfer Quincy McKnight, who is better suited on the wing.
If the staff doesn’t add an immediately eligible point guard with one of their two open scholarships, Nelson and McKnight will surely split the point guard minutes with 2.8 apg Myles Powell becoming a third option.
Time will tell if Nelson becomes the next point guard to play four years — a decade after the last set foot in South Orange.
But for now, it looks like Seton Hall will have to settle at point guard in some way.