Not worried about the guys that voluntarily transferred during Felton's tenure. Just not worried. Why not? Because they couldn't play!
I'm joking a bit, here. It takes a lot to play Division 1 basketball, and as long as a player suits up in the red and black, I will be one of their loudest and most optimistic fans. I wouldn't publicly put down their talent.
However, if the players voluntarily decide to go elsewhere, it's appropriate to look at the cold hard facts.
The Athens Banner Herald recently named six players who have voluntarily transferred out of Felton's program: Buzz Wehunt, Channing Toney, Younes Idrissi, Kendrick Johnson, Rashaad Singleton, and Jeremy Jacob.
As I recall, the paper lamented Jeremy Jacob's transfer and bemoaned the pattern of player departures, as if there had been a huge loss when each player left.
I understand the sentiment, but the facts just don't support all that angst.
II. Player Productivity
Looking at the information available from Georgia's website (the records only go back to 2004), here's what we find.
1. Buzz Wehunt
Played in 2004/2005. Missed all of his free throws. Averaged 0.5 point per game.
2. Channing Toney
Played 2004/2005. Averaged 9 points per game, but shot just 36% from the floor. In 2005/2006 his shooting percentage went up, but his average went down to 8 points per game.
3. Younes Idrissi
Played in 2004/2005. Shot 40% from the floor, 54% from the line, and scored 3 pts per game. In 2005/2006, Idrissi shot 40% from the floor, 66% on free throws, and scored an average of 6 points per game.
4. Kendrick Johnson
Guy had a lot of potential, but injuries limited his effectiveness. He shot 46% from the floor, 50% from the line and averaged 2 pts per game.
5. Rashaad Singleton
I appreciate his hard work in the weight room and his efforts to get better. But the production just wasn't there, and Felton was right to try to spark him to improve.
In 2005/2006, Singleton shot 44% from the floor, 25% from the free throw line, and averaged just 1.9 pts per game. In 2006/2007, Singleton scored 3 pts per game. In his final abbreviated season with the Dawgs, he scored 2.7 pts per game, and shot 33% from the line.
6. Jeremy Jacob
Would have liked to see what he could do. We'll never know. But looking at his actual, rather than potential, production, we do know that in 6 games, Jacob shot just 40% from the floor and 57% from the line. He averaged 5 pts per game. Most of his production came against Jacksonville State. He didn't play in any conference games, so no one knows what the impact would have been once Jacob faced the better defenses. His scoring average would have likely gone down, rather than up, if the Wisconsin game is any indication (0 pts with 0 rebounds in 7 minutes).
Georgia lost a total of 27.3 points per game due to the transfer of the 6 players. That's an average of 4.5 points per player.
Looking at each player's own production, rather than the average of the transfers as a group, the result is not much better. In my opinion, a very modest, very modest, offensive output for a player would be 6 pts a game, 45% from the floor, and 65% from the line.
Of the 6 transfers, only one averaged 6 pts a game for their career. Channing Toney. And his offensive contribution was arguably about to go down, because he had lost his starting position. Likewise, of the 6 transfers, only one had a career shooting percentage of 45% or better, and that was Kendrick Johnson. Although he technically qualifies, it's hard to give him much credit since he only scored 2 points per game. And finally, only one of the transfers had a career free throw shooting average of 65% or better.
The team certainly didn't lose much offensively when these players left.
Rebounding? Georgia is not a great rebounding team. The team averaged 3.9, 3.7 and 3.6 rebounds per player over the last three years. Did any of the 6 transfers beat the player average in any of those years? Nope.
Georgia did not lose a dominant or even average rebounder when the transfers decided to go elsewhere.
Could the transfers have helped defensively or given some stability to the program by sticking around? Possibly. This question is harder to assess. But in my view, there wasn't a shutdown defender in the group, and if the players were unhappy enough to transfer, there is little likelihood that by staying they would have contributed much to the morale of the team.
Other questions to ask in assessing the loss of the voluntary transfers are: Would any of these guys have started on the 2008/2009 team? If Georgia were able somehow to bring them back, which current players would you want to kick off the team in order to make room?
IV. Final Thoughts
Voluntary transfers happen. Attrition takes place. I don't want to encourage players to leave the program. And we don't know all the facts involved in the decisions of previous players who chose to leave. But am I worried that the program is substantially worse for their departure? Not at all. My take is that after these players left, the coaching staff was able, and should continue to be able, to maintain, if not upgrade, the talent on the roster via the recruiting process.
Beyond that, I want to cheer for guys that want to be at Georgia. Guys that will pull together for the name on the front of the jersey. Like seniors Sundiata Gaines and Dave Bliss, who busted it in the classroom, proudly wore the G on their uniform in the good and bad times, and closed out a four-year career by propelling the Dawgs to victory in the 2008 SEC Tournament Championship.