Shivaughn Wiggins and Melvin Gregory have both left the Mount St. Mary's basketball and will not return to the school.
Yesterday's news of Wiggins' departure has sent some shockwaves through the Mount basketball fanbase. If you don't believe me, your inbox wasn't as full as mine this morning.
No doubt losing Wiggins is a blow to the Mount's chances to win the NEC Title that many fans are predicting and hoping for this year. But it by no means eliminates those chances. How big a blow? That remains to be seen. The Mount returns three All-NEC capable guards and brings in three freshman who the coaching staff has praised.
Head Coach Jamion Christian has talked about building a culture among his team and his program. This is just another step in realizing what that culture is and allowing that culture to take shape. The program has made it known that they want not only to win games, but have class individuals representing the University while doing so. Therefore, as we've seen in the past, Christian will choose to handle situations as he sees fit for the betterment of the program and the University.
Examples: Kelvin Parker didn't make the trip to DC for the Mount's win over George Washington and contest with Georgetown. Wiggins wasn't in Bloomington Indiana or Kalamazoo Michigan for the Mount's Midwest trip right before Christmas last year, and Xavier Owens didn't accompany the team on its NEC Postseason run.
Here is a quote from the Mount's release from Christian about Wiggins' departure.
"We are working tirelessly to establish a strong and consistent culture on an off of the floor," said Christian. "In our first season we were able to make tremendous strides in these areas and we are committed to doing so on a daily basis. Shivaughn had an unbelievable freshman year for us here at the Mount and was a big contributor to this past season's success. We will continue to wish him the best in any of his future endeavors."
A lot has been made of the six departures since the end of the season and what is the cause of that. Some have even questioned whether it might be a long-term problem. My opinion is that each situation was a little different than the other and there is not cause for long-term concern. Statistics show that over 40% of college basketball players transfer before the end of their playing careers. When coaching changes occur, those numbers always seem to escalate.
And when someone steps in, as Christian and his staff have, changes the way things have operated in the past additional change is needed and necessary.
Let's be honest, there really is only one reason anyone is concerned about the six departures.
Last year's success.
If the Mount had gone 10-18 as many suggested they would, nobody would care if folks were leaving campus. Some would even help them pack their bags.
But the expectation of what's to come, an expectation that wouldn't be there if it weren't for the steps that the coaching staff has taken, has made fans worry about what these departures mean. And question whether it is rocking the foundation and core of the program.
The answer is absolutely not. The foundation and core of the program is that these student-athletes are going to be held responsible for their actions both on and off the court.
It was that foundation and core that allowed for the success that was achieved last year.
It is that foundation and core that is going to allow you and I to be proud of a basketball team that is going to provide us with great entertainment and many many wins in the years to come.
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