Paying the Chol Toll

Let’s get one thing straight: Angelo Chol is a model teammate. He works hard, understands his role, takes a team first approach, and plays his damndest.

This, from a January article about the power forward’s playing time:

Miller said he had Chol in his office last week to talk about his role and to reinforce the coaching staff’s belief in the athletic, but still raw, basketball talent.

“He said, ‘Coach, as long as we’re winning, you never have to talk to me,’” Miller said.

The kid just wants to win. What more could you want from a program player? Evidently, you could want more players, better players, at the same position.

Sean Miller has taken a presumably calculated approach/risk in loading his front court. He’s found himself with four and five stars splattered across the four and five position, yet now watches the second member of this wealth of bigs depart.

Choltastic is leaving right on the heels of Grant Jerrett’s league declaration.

This transfer makes more sense than Jerrett’s exit – Cholcredible played just 8.5 minutes per game and never saw the floor in 3 of the team’s final 6 games – and Arizona has brought in Aaron Gordon and Rodae Hollis-Jefferson; both of whom project to take minutes from the Choltender. Additionally, Miller has made a concerted effort to ensure that Kaleb Tarczewski receives the lion’s share of big man minutes (can’t fault him for hoping a monstrous 7-footer develops). And there’s still Brandon Ashley and the arriving Matt Korchek (6’10” 225lbs with similar high-motor-low-offense skills as Cholicious).

So yeah, even if winning was all that mattered to Cholholio, it was becoming abundantly clear that no matter how hard he worked or team first he approached the day, if the push was to improve his position with other bodies, he was going to be the odd man out.

And so now he is out and it raises questions not of Chol-Patrol’s character or dedication, but rather what Sean Miller is up to?

By no means am I insinuating that he’s sabotaging his own program – that’d be asinine – but it’s interesting to read the following:

50% of Sean Miller’s recruits from 2009-2011 have transferred

Momo Jones, Kyryl Natyazhko, Daniel Bejarano, Josiah Turner, Angelo Chol, and Sidiki Johnson are all gone to greener pastures or otherwise. It is yet to be determined whether this is an issue, but for now it is a fact. Another fact is that NCAA-wide, there’s about a 40% transfer rate. This doesn’t excuse the Arizona-exodus but sheds some light on the ubiquity of movement.

Again, whether this 50% attrition rate is an issue is yet to be determined. Arizona could win the 2013-14 National Title and this would all be for naught.

But having to pay this Chol Toll could be indicative of bigger issues, program problems, and a lack of direction, aim, and development. Have I taken it too far? Perhaps, but 1/2 your kids bolt and eyebrows are raised.

From where we sit today, however, there isn’t a problem. Arizona maintains a top-10 roster and sits in the homes and ears of innumerable elite recruits. The eyebrow may be raised, but Arizona fans can maintain a smug grin.

And maybe it’s even simpler than all of that. Maybe it’s all just a big bummer to lose Cholster because he is all of those things I’d previously mentioned. The type of kid you hope to stand and applaud as he holds his framed jersey overhead, his family at his side, on his Senior Day.

The type of kid that prompts Sean Miller to call him “one of the finest people and nicest kids that I have ever coached.”

Here’s to hoping the best for Angelo Chol.

And the program he’s leaving.

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