Niagara Gazette — There is a transfer of power going on in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, from which all of the top contenders are benefiting.
First-place Niagara hasn't lost a league game since center Devon White, a graduate student who transferred in from LaSalle, joined the lineup following offseason ankle surgery.
Second-place Iona has three transfers in its starting lineup, including the league's leading scorer, Momo Jones (Iona), the Gaels' leading rebounder David Laury (committed to Western Kentucky and UMass before playing last season at Lamar State) and the team's top assist-man Tavon Sledge (Iowa State). There's also Curtis Dennis (Toledo), who hasn't played much of late but made five 3-pointers in a November win over Niagara.
Third-place Loyola features Erik Etherly (Northeastern), the preseason player of the year who led the Greyhounds to the NCAA tournament last year, and Jordan Latham (Xavier), a highly-rated recruit coming out of high school now starting at center.
Fourth-place Canisius, one of the most improved team's in the country, has five transfers in its playing rotation, most notably all-conference candidate Billy Baron (Rhode Island), as well as starters Issac Sosa (Central Florida), Jordan Heath (Roberts Wesleyan), Harold Washington (Cecil College) and reserve big man Freddy Asprilla (Kansas State).
"It definitely is becoming a league of transfers," Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro said on a recent league-wide conference call.
According to Steve Amedio's Keeping Track of the MAAC blog, there were just two transfers from other four-year schools in the MAAC 12 years ago. Now there are 15. The three MAAC teams that don't have any transfers on their current roster (Siena, Marist and Manhattan) are a combined 9-21 in conference games so far.
Transfers are hardly a new trend in college basketball. Larry Bird started at Indiana before completing his career at Indiana State. But the transfer rate is rising every year. More than 440 players changed schools last offseason, according to a USA Today report, and men's basketball players are 36 percent more likely to transfer than athletes in other sports.