August 13, 2012 in JUCO
Several graphs down in Eric Woodyard’s story for the Flint Journal about Mott Community College picking up a commitment from Ahasuerus McDonald was this note, sure to be of significant interest to other JUCO teams in Michigan hoping to dethrone the reigning national champs:
Only four players will be returning from last year’s roster. Five sophomores finished their eligibility and Alabama players Ralph Eason and Jacob Perry mutually agreed with Schmidt to not return this season.
Eason and Perry aren’t just any players — Eason was a likely All-America candidate and Perry, who provided great 3-point shooting as a reserve last season, had the talent to push for a starting spot. Now, attrition is a normal part of every JUCO basketball program, Mott included. But typically, players leave Mott for one of two reasons. The more acceptable of the two is simply a search for more playing time. Mott’s roster is loaded with talent every season, and there are simply guys who are good enough to play at the college level but not necessarily good enough to crack the rotation at Mott, so they go off in pursuit of a chance to play more. The other reason players leave is because they can’t meet coach Steve Schmidt‘s expectations for off-court behavior — namely, taking care of business in the classroom and representing the program in a positive way within the community. The specifics of what happened here aren’t public and I won’t speculate what exactly happened, but Eason and Perry, as talented as they are on the court, wouldn’t have found themselves on the outside of the rotation from a basketball perspective.
Mott will certainly be OK. They’ve lost talented players before and always have an abundance ready to take over. They have a good recruiting class coming in and, although no star players returning, they have a handful of contributors to their national title run last year who will be back and help ease the transition of the freshmen. It’s a shame that it didn’t work out at Mott for Eason and Perry. Both are good players who would’ve helped Mott a lot on the court. But their being absent from the team going into next season is precisely the reason Schmidt is so respected as a coach — he enforces his high standards on every member of the roster, star player or otherwise, and he’s unafraid to make tough decisions that may hurt some on the court in the short term in the interest of sustaining the more important off-court culture he’s built at Mott.