Southern Illinois is experiencing a mass exodus. The most recent to join the party are talented freshmen Jordan Caroline and Deion Lavender, whose decisions to transfer the school announced Monday.
With these two players departing, the Salukis have now lost five players to the transfer market, and it’s not even April yet.
“Certainly, I have had better days as a college basketball coach and I don’t mind telling you that I am incredibly saddened and disappointed with the decision of two of our student athletes to transfer from SIU,” coach Barry Hinson said. “I did not expect this nor did I see this coming … I want our fans to know that we did everything we could do to keep these players here and it was their decision as of today that it was in their best interest to go and play somewhere else.”
Caroline was the team’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder with 9.2 points and 6.2 boards per game. The 6-foot-7 forward earned All-MVC Freshman Team honors. He cited playing “at the highest level of college basketball” as what drove his decision to transfer.
“Jordan had an outstanding freshman season for us and we’re obviously disappointed to see him leave,” Hinson said. “We wanted him to stay.”
Lavender averaged 6.6 points and improved his outside jump shot during the second half of the season.
“Deion’s reasoning was just that he was unhappy here in Carbondale,” Hinson said.
The Salukis have also lost sixth man Jalen Pendleton (6.6 ppg, 1.6 apg, 1.1 spg), K.C. Goodwin (2.6 ppg, 1.0 apg) and Chaz Glotta (2.3 ppg).
Those three all left because they want more playing time, Hinson said.
Hinson spoke about college basketball’s transfer epidemics, with more than 1,000 transfers in the last two years. This month, the epidemic hit Carbondale, Illinois.
“We are in a society now where the grass is always greener,” Hinson said. “We are part of the society now where we want instant gratification and it’s hard. We all live in it.”
Although it returns leading scorer Anthony Beane, a junior who averaged 16.1 points per game, Southern Illinois is in trouble for next season. The Salukis who finished ninth in the MVC this past year, return just one other player who played at least 20 minutes per game in sophomore forward Sean O’Brien.
Even with a quality junior college pickup in guard Mike Rodriguez Jr., there are plenty of holes on Hinson’s roster that need to get filled if this team will be competitive during the 2015-16 season.