Two players from the men’s basketball team and one from the women’s team will transfer from GW this spring, opening up scholarship spots for the Colonials to bring new players to the respective teams before the start of next season.
Men’s basketball sophomore guard Tim Johnson and freshman forward Chris Fitzgerald will transfer from GW, head coach Karl Hobbs said Wednesday.
Women’s basketball sophomore guard Janine Davis will also transfer, women’s basketball head coach Mike Bozeman said.
With the depature of Johnson and Fitzgerald, 12 players have now left the program under varying circumstances during Hobbs’ 10-year tenure as head coach
Johnson, a Harvey, Ill., native, averaged 9.3 minutes and 3.4 points per game last season for the Colonials. The sophomore appeared poised early on for a strong second season in Foggy Bottom, averaging 20 minutes of playing time in GW’s first four regular season games and scoring a team-high 19 points in GW’s exhibition win over Bowie State Nov. 6.
Johnson’s minutes dropped off significantly though once conference play began – the sophomore played in just seven of the Colonials’ 16 regular season Atlantic 10 games. Johnson declined to comment.
“Tim and Chris both have decided to continue their college careers elsewhere,” Hobbs said in a statement. “The coaches and myself appreciate what both Tim and Chris have done for our program and we wish them both the best in their futures.”
Like Johnson, Fitzgerald also enjoyed some early success this season, scoring 16 points and shooting 50 percent from behind the three-point line in his first appearance as a Colonial, a 79-59 win over Marist.
Fitzgerald failed to score more than six points in a game for the remainder of the season though, and he finished the season averaging just 3.1 points and 7.2 minutes per game. The freshman appeared in just four of GW’s 16 regular season A-10 games.
Fitzgerald said that he never really felt comfortable at GW or in an urban setting, both of which played a major role in his decision to transfer.
“I just feel that a different school setting, a different basketball setting, would be better for me. Coming to D.C. was something I did because my father travels here a lot, so I figured he likes it and he could come see a lot of games,” Fitzgerald said. “Being in a city isn’t really for me, I guess, or just being here, away from home. I’m looking more to go closer to home, closer to New England.”
Fitzgerald said while he personally got along well with Hobbs and the men’s basketball coaching staff, he never felt completely comfortable in the Colonials’ fast-paced style of play.
“I mean I really like Coach Hobbs. I like all the coaches, I think they’re really great guys,” he said. “It’s just that the way that we play, I don’t think I looked at it enough before I chose here and I just feel like both sides, the team and myself, would be better if I just looked for a better fit.”
The departures leave the Colonials with two extra scholarships to be distributed, spaces that Hobbs said he plans to fill before next season. Hobbs has already inked the highest-rated recruiting class of his tenure at GW, a group highlighted by center Erik Copes, rated by ESPNU as the sixth-best center in his recruiting class.
Hobbs said nothing has been decided yet, but added that senior center Jabari Edwards could occupy one of those scholarships. Edwards, who was honored during GW’s senior day festivities March 5, was granted a Medical Hardship Waiver as a sophomore and could and use his final year of NCAA eligibility to return to the Colonials for one more season.
“It’s a very strong possibility,” Hobbs said in an interview Wednesday. “We’ll have to investigate and see what’s the proper channels, but that’s a very strong possibility… there’s been some discussions about it.”
Davis averaged 15.1 minutes per game for an injury-plagued women’s basketball team this season. She played in 21 of the Colonials’ 29 games this season and started twice for GW. As a freshman in 2009-2010, she played in all 28 of GW’s games and started 13 of them. She also led the Colonials in assists as a freshman with 61.
“It’s always disappointing, because you build relationships with your players, and we spend a lot of time [together], we’re on the road a lot and you can depend on them, they depend on you,” Bozeman said of Davis’ departure. “But all in all, you’re of the mindset that these are formative years. They have to learn how to stand up and be responsible for their own decisions, and you understand that you only have so much effect that you can have with them.”
“I wouldn’t say it was out of the blue, but it was definitely a surprise for me,” he added.
Davis did not return a request for comment.
Even with Davis’ departure, Bozeman said his team would be able to handle the departure as transfers are a part of college basketball.
“As a basketball coach, there’s some turnover that happens naturally, and you never want to see anyone leave, but it happens in this game,” Bozeman said. “We have a couple good recruits coming in, one happens to be a point guard, and we’ll move on.”
This article appeared in the March 24, 2011 issue of the Hatchet.