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Friday, February 23, 2024

Column: Is Les more?

The last few weeks have seen significant turnover in UC Davis men’s basketball.

Head coach Jim Les’ announcement of the departures of sophomores Harrison Dupont, Alex Tiffin and Mike Kurtz was followed just a week later by the announcement that freshman Tyrell Corbin would be leaving the Aggies at the end of the academic year.

To many UC Davis basketball fans, this seems all too similar to the dreaded Gary Stewart years.

Aggie fans can still remember the 2010 departures of players like Jelani Floyd (now at Florida Atlantic) and 2009-10 Big West Conference Freshman of the Year Julian Welch (who averaged nearly 10 points per-game this season for Minnesota).

But with that sad history in mind, a closer examination indicates that this time will most likely be different.

Let’s taking the departures one by one.

With all due respect to Kurtz (and he has been the butt of many jokes from The Aggie over the past two years) it never really seemed like he had a place in Les’ system.

The Roseville, Calif. native didn’t see the floor all season, and it is hard to imagine that he would have seen much playing time with UC Davis any time in the future.

For Harrison Dupont, the situation is similar.

The transfer from The Citadel did not seem to fit in to Les’ system, which requires perimeter players to pass and shoot the ball well.

Dupont made just one three-pointer in 10 attempts last season, and tallied 24 more turnovers than assists. With seniors Ryan Howley and Ryan Sypkens returning from injury, sophomores Tyler Les and Josh Ritchart showing great improvement last year and a solid group of recruits prepped to make plays to get into the starting lineup, Dupont probably would not have played a big role for the Aggies over the next several seasons.

As far as Tiffin is concerned, he began the year as an everyday starter, but began to lose playing time to freshman JT Adenrele as the season progressed.

With Adenrele looking like a player who will only get better over the next few years, and the official announcement of new recruits 6-10 Spencer Clayton and 6-7 Clint Bozner — who will both be looking to break into the 2012-13 starting lineup — Tiffin looks like an expendable piece for the upcoming season.

Possibly the most surprising departure of the group was Corbin.

While the other three players were brought in by the disaster known as Stewart, Corbin was a member of Les’ first UC Davis recruiting class and started at point guard for the majority of the season.

Like Dupont, however, Corbin was not an ideal fit.

The freshman from Utah shot under 20 percent from long distance last season, and though he led the team with 91 assists, he also topped the Aggies with 96 turnovers.

Junior Paolo Mancasola began to take minutes away from Corbin as the season progressed, and Mancasola started the final two games of the season for the Aggies, including UC Davis’ Big West Tournament game.

In addition, three of the Aggies’ four Division I wins came with Mancasola in the starting lineup (although in one of those games both Mancasola and Corbin started in tandem).

It is also important to note that next season will see the introduction of Corey Hawkins, who missed the 2011-12 season due to transfer rules following his move to UC Davis from Arizona State.

The 6-3 guard still has sophomore eligibility and rumor has it he has been a standout performer in practice.

With Hawkins looking to make a move for a spot in the 2012-13 starting lineup and Mancasola already entrenched as a reliable option, Corbin probably would have a seen a reduced role next season.

Nobody likes to see players transfer out of their program, but in this case it is not nearly as bad as it seems.

As similar as it seems, these latest departures are not the same type we witness under Stewart’s reign, and moving forward they might actually be the best moves for Les and the UC Davis basketball team.

TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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