While the start of Willy Week should have been a promising time for Owls fans, what with the spring football game taking place tonight and the baseball team starting its first Conference USA home series tonight, the men's basketball program was rocked Monday afternoon with reports that freshman point guard Dylan Ennis and freshman small forward Jarelle Reischel decided to transfer to other schools after the completion of the spring semester. Head Coach Ben Braun commented on their decisions to transfer.
"Both made positive contributions to our team success this year as freshmen," Braun said. "I am obviously disappointed in their decision to transfer, However, I want to support them in their future plans and wish them success."
While the men's basketball team has suffered from several transfers of players during Braun's tenure (eight out of 16 scholarship recruits), many have been role players that were looking to transfer for additional playing time. Ennis and Reischel were anything but benchwarmers this year, starting 40 combined games and averaging 40 combined minutes, 14 combined points and seven combined rebounds per game. Ennis had already moved into sharing the starting point guard role with senior Connor Frizzelle and was virtually assured of the starting point guard job for the next three years at Rice. Reischel was the only freshman in the starting lineup for the team's first game of the season and was expected to be one of the first players off the bench next year, if he was not in the starting lineup.
Both players cited homesickness and a desire to play at a school closer to home as reasons for their decisions.
"I've been away from home a long time," Ennis said. "I was just thinking I want my family there. They were only able to see three games [this season], and that really bothered me because the distance is so far."
Even though Ennis knows he is leaving Rice, he is still not sure where he will be next year.
"You never know where you can end up," Ennis said. "I'm really open to all schools right now. If the possibility comes I can get closer to home, I will definitely try to do that. I won't be in a Rice uniform next year."
Reischel thanked Rice as well declaring his intention to also go to a school close to his home, like Ennis.
"I would like to thank Rice and the basketball staff for their support both athletically and academically throughout my freshman year," Reischel said. "I wish the program the best. I'm hopeful to attend a school closer to home."
Neither of the players has released a set of prospective schools, although neither will be looking at any other schools in C-USA.
Needless to say, the Owls' program is somewhat decimated by this move. Now, only four of the team's top eight scorers will return, and with the departure of the four seniors (Frizzelle, forwards Lucas Kuipers and Emerson Herndon, and guard Nate Schwarze) along with Ennis and Reischel, the Owls will have just eight players left on the roster until the recruits in the class of 2016 come to campus in the fall. While the coaching staff is expecting around three to four recruits to matriculate in the fall, it will need to scramble to not only ensure that existing verbal commitments become solid commitments, but also to find additional recruits to give the Owls 13 players for 13 scholarships.
Quotes from the Houston Chronicle were used in this article.