Time to start panicking, Cleveland State fans. All three of you. Trey Lewis is leaving the program.
It shouldn’t be that big of a surprise to any of you, really. After all, Lewis is finishing his degree in May. That means per NCAA rules, Lewis, and Anton Grady, for that matter, can transfer and have immediate eligibility anywhere else.
The same thing happened when Valparaiso’s Brandon Wood graduated and spent his final year of eligibility at Michigan State. On a smaller scale, it’s what allowed former Viking center Joe Latas to play his last year at Houston Baptist.
Of course, neither of them were a first-team All-Horizon League player. And neither of them led their teams in scoring, as Lewis did with 16.3 per game.
Not helping matters is that this wipes out yet another starter from the Cleveland State lineup. Seniors Charlie Lee and Marlin Mason were already leaving, due to graduate, and Lee was the third-leading scorer on top of that.
But there’s just one other thing that is sending CSU fans into a frothing panic. This is the second year in a row this has happened.
You might have caught that transfer over the weekend helping the Spartans make it to the Final Four. Bryn Forbes, who finished with 14 points in Michigan State’s overtime win over Louisville, received a hardship waiver after leaving Cleveland State, allowing him to play immediately.
The whole thing has to make you wonder if this is a problem with college basketball in general or with Cleveland State in particular. Honestly, why can’t this program seem to hold on to its top players. If it was just Forbes, I’d chalk it up to being an isolated incident. But now Lewis is leaving, too? And who’s to say that Grady won’t take his degree and his seek life elsewhere?
It’s a valid question that needs to be asked. Have we officially entered an era in which mid-majors are slowly but surely becoming little more than junior colleges that allow high-major programs to save themselves the trouble of developing players? And if this is actually true, is CSU just the victim of plain old bad luck.
Considering that this is still Cleveland we’re talking about, the prospect of being cursed does have some validity to it.
And you can’t really fault Lewis here. You have to believe after accounting for basically all of Cleveland State’s scoring against Louisville, his stock was on the rise. When the opportunity to play for Rick Pitino and the Cardinals, a possible landing spot, you’re not really going to pass that up, are you?
This latest transfer should also serve as a wake-up call to CSU. Now, I’m not talking about Athletics here. I’m talking about the student body who doesn’t seem to mind shelling out more than $9 million for sports programs and completely ignoring them. I’m talking about the alumni and other donors who are clearly frightened of the prospect of going back to the bad old days of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Something’s wrong here. Sure, Cleveland State isn’t getting any worse, but it sure isn’t getting any better. How can it when top players don’t want to stay? When are you planning to say something about it?