For the second consecutive season, multiple men’s basketball players will transfer from Rice. Freshmen Malik Osborne and Miles Lester announced on Twitter that they received their releases, while sophomore Austin Meyer confirmed to the Thresher that he too intends to depart.
Meyer struggled to get as much playing time this season as he did in his freshman campaign, appearing in only 22 games. He did see an increase in his scoring production, but at the same time, his rebounding figures dropped from the season before, in which he started 10 games.
Lester, who earned a scholarship after initially being recruited as a preferred walk-on, got valuable minutes in the backup point guard position. He was the most efficient qualifying Owls player from behind the 3-point line this season, shooting at a clip of 37.7 percent. In a statement on Twitter, Lester said the decision to transfer was among the more difficult decisions he’s ever had to make.
“This past year, being at Rice has provided me an opportunity to grow as a student, basketball player and most importantly a person,” Lester said. “I want to thank my teammates who throughout the whole year were the best guys and teammates I’ve had the pleasure to be around.”
The biggest loss from a production standpoint will be Osborne. Starting almost every game this season, Osborne averaged 9.0 points and roughly 6.5 rebounds per game. He also narrowly missed out on being named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team. Osborne’s transfer has been spread throughout the national college basketball recruiting media. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, who has over 200,000 Twitter followers reported the transfer on his account and soon after, the popular recruiting account Verbal Commits tweeted about it as well. On Twitter, Osborne said he is exploring where his future is going to take him.
“The experience[s], memories and people I have come into contact with [at Rice] will be with me forever,” Osborne said. “I wish nothing but success for Rice and I am forever grateful.”
This is now the second straight year in which this team has had multiple transfers out of Rice. After last season, former head coach Mike Rhoades took the head coaching job at Virginia Commonwealth University. With Rhoades leaving, Marcus Evans, Marquez Letcher-Ellis, Corey Douglas and Chad Lott transferred, while Egor Koulechov and Marcus Jackson were able to graduate and then transfer. Student athletes transferring in college basketball is fairly common, but teams losing multiple players every season is not as common.
Just like last offseason, current head coach Scott Pera has some late recruiting to do to fill the spots opened up by Meyer, Lester and Osborne. Currently, Pera and his staff have signed Payton Moore, Chris Mullins, Trey Murphy and Quentin Millora-Brown to letters of intent. Now the staff will have to fill three more spots in what will be a fairly large freshman class of seven.
There is always a chance that the staff could choose to recruit transfers from other universities. Last offseason, the Owls brought in three transfers: Dylan Jones, AJ Lapray and Josh Parrish.
Both Lester and Osborne thanked Pera and the rest of the coaching staff in their Twitter statements. While it is unclear where the three players who are transferring plan to go, it is certain that they will be leaving Rice at the end of the year.
Correction: While Austin Meyer plans to leave Rice, he has not yet been granted his release.