Brandon Reed signed with Arkansas State out of high school, enrolled there and earned Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year honors this past season by averaging 15.1 points per game. He put 34 on Denver in January, 30 on Western Kentucky in February. Naturally, that caused bigger schools to show interest in the 6-foot-3 guard. So Reed has decided to pull a Seth Curry, transfer and take his game to a better league.
Arkansas State coach John Brady is pissed.
|John Brady has already shown he will make a move to a bigger school, so why can't his players? (Getty Images)|
I get the frustration.
Honestly, I do.
All a good Sun Belt coach can hope is that he finds a prospect mostly overlooked by the ACC, Big 12 or SEC and watches him develop into a star of the league like Courtney Lee once did at Western Kentucky. Brady, in just his second year at Arkansas State, had that prospect in Reed. So to lose the Atlanta native after 31 games must be frustrating and, as Brady put it, disappointing.
I get that.
But I can't muster any sympathy.
Because all Brandon Reed is doing is what Sun Belt coaches have been doing for years.
Reed took the best offer he could get out of high school, did the best he could do in his first season of college basketball, earned previously unknown recognition and got presented with what he considers to be superior offers from bigger schools in better leagues. So now he's going to move to a bigger school in a better league. Which is exactly what a Sun Belt coach would do if he found himself in a similar situation.
My question: Why should a Sun Belt player be held to a different standard than a Sun Belt coach?
As I've written many times, there is no loyalty in college athletics, and Brady should know this better than most considering LSU fired him less than two years after he led the Tigers to the Final Four. Furthermore, an Atlantic Sun school -- i.e., Samford, which is now in the Southern Conference -- offered Brady a chance to become its head coach in 1991 at a time when, I presume, "other schools that saw him did not." Eventually, Brady proved he was capable of being more than an Atlantic Sun coach, and LSU contacted him when it was looking for Dale Brown's replacement.
And guess what Brady did?
And nobody felt sorry for Samford, and I don't remember the athletic director explaining how Samford gave Brady an opportunity "when other schools that saw him did not." Everybody just kind of understood that, though it was disappointing, this is the way the system works. And yet for some reason we don't want small-school players to use the system the same way small-school coaches routinely do.
It's the latest example of people asking people to do things they wouldn't do themselves. Fans want coaches to pledge allegiance to their current jobs and reject all overtures even though most fans would gladly interview for better jobs worth more money, and coaches want athletic directors to rework contracts after good seasons even though most coaches wouldn't take paycuts after bad seasons. Lost in the craziness is that these things should be two-way streets.
Again, I understand Brady's frustration.
I would be frustrated, too.
But the truth is that coaches with dreams have been using the Sun Belt as a launching pad to bigger and better things for years -- John Pelphrey (from South Alabama to Arkansas) and Darrin Horn (from Western Kentucky to South Carolina) are two recent examples -- and nobody has a problem with it. So I'm not sure how anybody could take issue with a Sun Belt player doing the same thing.
Brandon Reed disloyal?
I'll just call him opportunistic.
He used the Sun Belt to create a better opportunity.
That's exactly what Sun Belt coaches have been doing for decades.