In a shock move, Seton Hall freshman point guard Jordan Walker has decided to transfer from the program.
— Andrew Slater (@Andrew__Slater) December 19, 2017
Poised to return to the rotation this week following a thumb ligament injury which had kept him out for nine games over the course of a month, Jordan Walker has decided to call it quits in South Orange.
Following up on the original report from Andrew Slater, Jerry Carino provided these two key tidbits in his story on the matter:
“Walker … bolted because he didn’t play against Rutgers on Saturday, Gannett New Jersey confirmed.”
“But Walker, who prior to Saturday had been sidelined for a month by torn ligaments in his hand, had been a handful for the Pirates’ coaching staff behind the scenes since he arrived on campus, according to multiple people familiar with the program’s inner workings.”
Carino’s scoops are in addition to a whisper I heard just after Walker’s original injury time table was increased by a few weeks. I was told that there was more to the injury than what was being discussed at surface level. Lo and behold…
If we take the above at face value (I do think more info will be unearthed), in the short term, there aren’t many ways to paint this in a positive hue. Walker, having only played in two games, looked capable of handling 10-15 mpg against non-conference competition, and slightly less than that against Big East foes, factoring in some freshman growth and set-backs along the way.
That back-up option is now gone, with an inconsistent Eron Gordon (2.1 ppg, 1.4 apg) set to to take on any lead guard minutes off the bench in place of converted point guard Khadeen Carrington (11.7 ppg, 4.2 apg).
After taking another hit, the already-thin depth chart at point guard leaves absolutely no margin for injury, or Kevin Willard would have to revert to some sort of point-forward approach on the fly.
And while the immediate future is usually what is focused on in these scenarios, its the long term that is the most captivating, at least to me.
First off, as of now, Willard has little as far as excuses go. If we accept the immature freshman narrative, that doesn’t excuse anything. Does a manager hold no responsibility for a recent hire who turned out to be erratic and unfit for the job? No, and they get significantly less time – on average – to vet their new hire, at least compared to a coach and prospective recruits.
Willard may of knew he had an issue on his hands when he said this of Walker at Big East media day in October:
“I’m excited about Jordan, but he’s a big work in progress,” explained Willard when I asked him what happens when Carrington isn’t at the ‘one’.
“He just turned 18. When you’re around a bunch of older guys and you’re an 18-year-old kid, you try to act older. He just has to focus more on understanding he’s a freshman and has a lot to learn. And as he does that, he’s going to get more and more playing time.”
It seems pretty clear that due to the increasingly dire straits as far as point guard recruiting went, Willard and his staff had to shimmy a bit further out on the proverbial limb of talent. And that limb just snapped straight off.
On a positive note, at least the relationship ended on the second date.
That said, it’s not a complete disaster for 2018-19 and beyond, but the “top-100 local N.J. recruit” feel-good storyline has been flipped on its head.
After Carrington graduates this coming spring, Willard has Gordon — another attempted point guard convert — Sacred Heart combo guard Quincy McKnight, and incoming 2018 point guard Anthony Nelson, at his disposal.
In many ways, the transition is a straight swap. McKnight, who played a lot of lead guard at the other SHU, fills Carrington’s role, and Nelson inherits the back-up position alongside Gordon, assuming the sophomore stays in South Orange.
Still, there will be plenty of growing pains and drop-off in talent, but not a disaster scenario by any stretch.
But the real shame is that the coaching staff finds itself lodged back in the perpetual carousel of not having pure point guards at their disposal — and that has a huge aspect of self-infliction.
Remember: Walker was the first pure point guard commitment out of high school since Jordan Theodore in the 2008 class.
The staff better hit the trails for a floor general in the 2019 class. Quickly.